Savannah savour dream debut against champs
Portmore United.......................0 Savannah FC..............................1 T Sommerville (55th)
FRESHLY-PROMOTED Savannah FC produced the ultimate shock of Sunday's Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) opening round after inflicting a 1-0 defeat on title-holders Portmore United at the Ferdie Neita Park in St Catherine.
Triston Sommerville pounced on a defensive error from Portmore to notch the all-important goal 10 minutes into the second period as the Westmoreland team got off to a dream start in the country's top-tier competition.
Savannah's assistant coach Audley Thomas was profoundly emotional as he likened their defensive tactics to that of Chelsea FC in their UEFA Champions League semi-final victory over FC Barcelona last season.
"Oh my God! I'm overwhelmed. I'm so happy. The first game in this league and scoring and getting three points. After (going into the) half time (break at 0-0), we knew we could beat this team," he exulted.
"We have been working hard for this game. We watched them (Portmore) on video and we saw what they had to offer. They are the defending champions, so we knew we couldn't play like them.
"This was like a Chelsea and Barcelona game. We stayed behind the ball when we lost it and when we won it we came forward and once they made the mistake, we scored," said an animated Thomas.
Assistant coach at Portmore, Jeffrey Hewitt, was expectedly low-keyed in his analysis of the champion's unassured play in the attacking third.
"I thought we came out a bit tentative today. It's the first game and there were jitters in terms of expectations. We were eager to please and we just continued to make some simple mistakes.
"We got several scoring opportunities and did not make use of any and in the end, we actually gifted them one and when you do stuff like that most of the time you end up losing the game," he said.
Despite Portmore's wastefulness, Hewitt credited Savannah's defensive organisation and insisted his team will bounce back.
"Congrats to the Savannah team. I think they played a good defensive game... (but) we will continue to work hard and as champions we will rebound from this defeat. There are still many games to go and it's early days yet," he said.
In a first half that lacked intensity, Portmore dominated possession and created a few openings, but the trio of Alanzo Adlam, Andrew Christie new recruit Mauricio Gordon failed to deliver.
During this time, the Savannah outfit sat back deep and, seemlingly overwhelmed by the occasion, rarely ventured into the Portmore half with any threat.
Just after the break, Savannah sent a warning when Shane Anderson mis-hit a half-volley wide of goalkeeper Kemar Foster's left upright.
Gordon then kicked over the Savannah goal from 12 yards after a well-placed right-sided cross from Trevol Smith in the 54th.
Almost immediately, at the other end, Foster gave away possession to Sommerville, who dribbled in from the left side to power a close-range grounder into the net and send the handful of travelling supporters into wild celebrations.
Despite a series of attacks by Portmore, the visitors held on bravely by employing last-ditch defensive efforts — including a headed clearance off the line by Fabian Samuel after Rickcardo Harriott nodded on goal in the final 15 minutes.
Portmore United — Kemar Foster, Adrian Reid, Rickcardo Harriott, Trevol Smith, Andrew Christie, Damian Williams, Ewan Grandison (Paul Wilson 60th), Bryan Bayliss (Aldaine Grant 60th), Stephen Williams, Mauricio Gordon, Alanzo Adlam (Adoah Nickles 70th)
Subs not used: Carlloyd Walters, Upston Edwards, Andrew Vanzie, Nickoy Christian.
Savannah FC — Gavine Barrett, Cavel Blake, Linval Wilson, Shamar Bernard, Triston Sommerville, Fabian Samuel, Andre Fagan, Owen Cunningham (Errol Bryan 85th), Nicodie Haughton, Omar Stenard (Marlon Sommerville 46th), Shane Anderson (Roan Young 70th).
Subs not used: Damain Alexander, Omar Evans, Leroy Taylor, Nerado Brissett.
Booked: Blake (65th)
Referee: Courtney Campbell
Assistant Referees: Keble Williams and Nicholas Anderson
Fourth Official: Karl Tyrell
Match Commissary: Ewan Scott