Sport

Jamalco, Black Stars notch second win in Confed play-offs

BY OSHANE TOBIAS Observer writer

Friday, April 25, 2014    

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BLACK RIVER, St Elizabeth — After two games in the preliminary phase of the South Central Confederation Super Eight play-offs, the respective points standing reads Jamalco, the Zone A front-runners, six points, followed by DB Basovak, three; Newell and Alligator Pond are next with one point each. In Zone B, Black Stars and Newlands lead the way on six points each, while Treadlight, zero, and New Green, also zero, make up the chasing pack.

For the most part, there's no major surprise.

With the exception of one team, all of the clubs are where they expected to be at this stage of the competition -- not where their ambitions tell them they ought to be. But the statistic that will command the attention of most football fans in the region, particularly those in Manchester, involves New Green.

The Mandeville-based team won the longer version of this competition two seasons ago and was a semi-finalist last term. They were once again expected to be one of the protagonists in the hunt for a place in the JFF National Premier League play-offs. But while the other pre-tournament favourites are so far living up to expectation, New Green's campaign appears to have been derailed exactly where it started -- at their Brooks Park home ground last Sunday.

The 3-2 loss to Black Stars was but a muscle cramp that would have gone away with a positive result in their next game. But the sudden resignation letter from coach Courtney Jackson, which came immediately after the Black Star defeat, is now threatening to be a season-ending injury.

Without Jackson, who had led them to three parish trophies in one season, in the technical area for Wednesday's game against Newlands at the Spanish Town Prison Oval, New Green suffered the consequence; beaten 2-0 and are now playing catch-up in an unforgiving Zone B that comprises the other three parish champions.

Of course, with the play-offs only two games old, all is not lost for New Green. But, even with four matches remaining in the preliminary phase, trailing their two main rivals by six points is not an encouraging reality.

The good news for New Green, though, is that they can cut into that lead on Sunday.

Black Stars and Newlands will meet in the top-of-the-table clash in Spanish Town, meaning one of them -- maybe both -- is sure to drop points. New Green can therefore haul themselves back into semi-final contention with a win at Treadlight, who are in the same spot of both of their Manchester rivals.

Treadlight opened their campaign with a 2-1 home defeat to Newlands and -- despite an improved showing against Black Stars on Wednesday in Black River, St Elizabeth -- were again on the wrong side of a 2-0 result.

They were trailing as early as the third minute at the New Town Community Centre when the unmarked Xavier Harvey headed the hosts into the lead. That Treadlight found themselves two goals down midway the second half was a testament to their naivety as debutants at this level.

Up to the point of conceding a second goal to Harvey -- this one an exquisitely chipped effort into the top corner -- they were the only team that posed any sort of goal-threat and should have been out of sight by half-time.

Cornel Robinson, Rohan Richards and Tevin Dias were the main flops in front of goal.

But while Treadlight are struggling to get off the mark, the other Clarendon team, Jamalco, are three points clear at the top of Zone A. They scored a second successive 1-0 victory, courtesy of another Roshane Sharpe goal. This time against DB Basovak, the former premiership campaigners out of St Catherine were the victims.

The defeat, at Jamalco's Wembley base in Hayes, means Basovak were relegated to second in the group on three points, with Newell United and Alligator Pond two points back after sharing a 1-1 stalemate in their game in south Manchester.

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