It's all Reno in mid-season final
FROME, Westmoreland — Reno FC justified their position at the top of the points table of the Jamaica Football Federation Captain's Bakery and Grill/Charley's JB Rum Western Confederation Super League after blanking Tomorrow's People 3-0 in Sunday's mid-season final at Frome.
Craig Foster scored twice, once in either half and Alburn Facey added the icing on the cake as Reno FC won the mid-season final for the first time.
Tomorrow's People, last season's mid-season champions, played the final 42 minutes of the game with 10 men after central defender Damion Nelson was sent off by referee Danion Parchment after picking up his second yellow card for tripping Reno's Denmark Gillings. He had been cautioned earlier in the 14th minute.
Reno's coach Michael Graham is well aware of the 'mid-season jinx' where no team that wins the consolation final has ever won the title, but he said Reno are not followers but trend setters.
"This is not a problem for us," Graham told the Jamaica Observer. "We always try to turn negatives into positive, how about we say we will be the first team to win both the mid-season and the final?" he posed to the Observer.
The win was important for them, Graham said. "Every game is important to us, final or not, and we play to win every game, which is why we don't matter about the jinx, we don't follow trend we set standards."
He said there is work to be done, however, as despite winning, his players did not settle in the first half, though leading 1-0 at the interval. "The game was up and down for us and we did not really settle until the second half, especially after they went down to 10 men, and we need to get the players to understand that this is the nature of the final and they have to turn up to play. We have a good squad and we have to get them to be more competitive as the (competition) goes on."
Foster should have scored the opening goal in the 19th minute after he beat the off-side trap, beat two defenders and skipped over a diving goalkeeper Tito Dobson, but went wide to the left and his shot from an acute angle was blocked.
He atoned three minutes later when he latched on to a poor pass from Tomorrow's People's midfield close to the centre circle, beat two defenders and this time got by Dobson and shot into an unprotected goal.
He headed just wide in the 28th minute from a corner, as Reno swarmed all over the St James club.
Tomorrow's People eventually weathered the storm and had the first scoring chance in the 30th minute, but the weak shot was intercepted by a Reno defender.
Reno created another chance in the second minute of the second half when Facey's header came back off the post.
Things took a turn for the worst for Tomorrow's People when Nelson was sent off. They had the best chance, but Curtis Palmer hit the crossbar with a free kick in the 64th minute.
Reno eventually took control of the game and Foster added a second goal when he was left unmarked at the far left post to tap in a corner in the 71st minute.
Dobson made two good saves to momentarily stop Reno, cutting down the angle on Denmark Gillings when he broke through the defence and forced him to shoot wide in the 75th minute, and three minutes later his double save drew applause from the pro Reno fans.
Dobson had dropped the ball after a save from Foster and Gillings reacted first, but the goalkeeper recovered to block the point-blank shot for a corner.
The denial was only temporary, as Facey scored from the ensuring corner.