Relegation battle intensifies in RSPL
WITH Waterhouse FC and title-holders Harbour View FC already through to the semi-finals and the third and fourth places virtually wrapped up, it is the relegation battle that could offer major drama as the preliminary stage of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL)
After 29 rounds of football games, Waterhouse top the 12-team standings with 53 points, ahead of Harbour View, who have 51, Montego Bay United (48), and Arnett Gardens FC (45).
Even if the closest of the chasing pack -- the respective fifth and sixth-placed pair of Tivoli Gardens FC and Cavalier SC both have 36 points -- manage to string together a hugely improbable four-game winning streak in the remaining rounds, Montego Bay need only a point from their outings to seal a place.
In a similar scenario, Arnett Gardens only require four points from as many games.
The scramble to avoid relegation, however, is wide open to a range of probabilities. While nine points separate fourth from fifth place, there are only three points to split the respective fifth and 11th-placed teams in an unusually tight mid to lower-table pack.
The two teams with the least number of points at the end of the preliminaries will be demoted.
In one of today's intriguing clashes, the cellar-dwellers August Town FC, who have 27 points from 29 matches, welcome ninth-placed Sporting Central Academy (34 points) to the UWI Mona Bowl in a 3:30 pm kick-off.
In their last encounter, August Town blanked hosts Humble Lion FC 2-0. Sporting Central, on the other hand, came up 0-1 losers to Harbour View.
In another game set to commence at 3:30 pm, eighth-placed Boys' Town FC (34 points) entertain Waterhouse at the Collie Smith Complex.
Boys' Town drew 1-1 with Portmore United in the previous round and should expect no favours from in-form Waterhouse, who comfortably advanced in the Caribbean Football Union Championships recently. Waterhouse's last outing ended in a 3-1 win over Tivoli Gardens.
In a 4:00 pm battle, 10th-placed Portmore United (33 points) travel to the Edward Seaga Sports Complex to face Tivoli Gardens.
The seventh-placed Rivoli United (35), who only two rounds ago were languishing in 11th, will hope to continue their upward climb when they make the trip to Stadium East to meet mid-table rivals Cavalier SC at 5:00 pm.
One round ago, Rivoli beat Montego Bay 1-0, while Cavalier lost 1-2 to Arnett Gardens.
In today's late encounter, Harbour View host 11th-placed Humble Lion (33 points) at the Harbour View Mini-Stadium, beginning at 6:30 pm.
In the live televised game tomorrow at 8:30 pm, Montego Bay United and Arnett Gardens will clash at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in Catherine Hall. Montego Bay are playing the game in Catherine Hall instead of their usual home at the WespoW Park because the former is a lit venue.
RSPL matches today
*3:30 pm - August Town vs Sporting Central @ UWI Bowl
*3:30 pm - Boys' Town vs Waterhouse @ Collie Smith Complex
*4:00 pm - Tivoli Gardens vs Portmore United @ Edward Seaga Complex
*5:00 pm - Cavalier vs Rivoli United @ Stadium East
*6:30 pm - Harbour View vs Humble Lion @ Harbour View Stadium
RSPL match tomorrow
*8:30 pm - Montego Bay United vs Arnett Gardens @ Catherine Hall