A masterly 72nd-minute free kick by Rafeik Thomas gave Tivoli Gardens a crucial 1-0 win over Highgate United in their Red Stripe Premier League at the Edward Seaga Complex yesterday.
The former champions, who have been hovering dangerously over the relegation zone, have allayed demotion fears temporarily as they jumped to seventh spot on 36 points -- 11 clear of Highgate United in 11th place with 25 points.
Despite turning in a performance-lacking verve, it was a crucial win for the former champions as a loss could leave them in a real relegation dogfight with 10 games remaining.
Tivoli assistant coach Alvin Shaw recognises that a ugly win at this point is of paramount importance. "It was not the most attractive game, but at this point, what is important is the three points," he said.
"In the first half the players were very cautious but when we went in we spoke about it and took a risk and went with a more attacking formation and it did pay off for us," he noted.
That change in formation was the introduction of former national player Navion Boyd and live-wire Jamie Robinson in the 46th minute, and immediately the advantage was swung in the home team's favour.
Highgate's coach Michael Smith was a livid man after his team conceded from a free kick and he took a swipe at the refereeing of Raymond Bogle and his team.
"I think we played a good game away from home, but FIFA is putting a lot of money to improve the standard of refereeing and they (referees) are not doing a wonderful job," remarked Smith.
"Look at the game, they did a poor game and I think the referee cost us the game today. I don't think it was a free-kick and when you are at the bottom of the table even a park bus can hit you down," he added.
Tivoli Gardens — Edsel Scott, Christopher Jackson, Damion Gordon, Barrington Pryce, Kemar Flemmings, Fabian Campbell, Raymond Williamson (Jamie Robinson 46th), Jahmar Fisher (Navion Boyd 46th), Akeem Thenstead, Andre McFarlene, Rafeik Thomas (Junior Flemmings 90+).
Subs not used: Roybert Clarke, Davion Garrison, Jamoy Sibbles, Terrence Allen, Dennis Neish.
Booked: Pryce (20th), Flemmings (81st).
Highgate United: Kadeen Davis (Romaine Hamilton 15th), Andre Dyce, Richard Allison, Charles Williams, Taffarel Crosdale, Shamir Stewart (Sheldon Davis 80th), Jahmika Hutchinson, Severo Murphy, Kwesi Campbell, Kevin Williams (Akien Coley 63rd), Carlos Barrett.
Subs not used: Nicholas Sewell, Christopher Harris, Romaine Hamilton, Tenniel Riley.
Booked: Allison (34th), Murphy (86th)
Referee: Raymond Bogle
Assistant Referees: Garnet Page, Keble Williams
Fourth Official: Doyen Tummings
Match Commissary: Ann Marie Cundy