Portmore edge Panama's CD Plaza Amador in CONCACAF League

By Ian Burnett
Sport Editor

Friday, August 04, 2017

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Red Stripe Premier League runners-up Portmore United have taken a 1-0 lead over CD Plaza Amador of Panama in their home leg of the Round of 16 Scotiabank CONCACAF League inside the National Stadium on Wednesday night.

Striker Jermie Lynch popped up at the near post in the 73rd minute to steer home Ricardo Morris's left-sided cross, which proved enough for victory on the night.

New head coach and former Reggae Boy Shavar Thomas was pleased with the result, especially from a team which is still in pre-season training, and against an opponent already three games in their season.

“I'm very happy with the performance because of a few things... we didn't have all our players, short practice time frame, so for them to come in and put in this shift was tremendous,” Thomas told the media in a post-game press conference.

He added: “The result is very good, that's a good team we played against tonight. They played to details, good touch and we are waiting for a tough game in Panam next Wednesday.”

For Panama's Plaza Amador, Head Coach Jair Palacios said through an interpreter that he realised from the recently concluded CONCACAF Gold Cup that Jamaica have fast players who can counter-attack quickly, and though he didn't know too much about Portmore United, that characteristic was evident.

He said that he wouldn't describe his feeling as disappointed, but that next week his players will have to be patient and intelligent in their approach if they are to break down Portmore United.

There was not much goalmouth action in the first half as neither team exhibited a high level of composure in the final third.

However, the visitors went close just after the half-hour mark when Sergio Ortega bombed down the left-hand channel and drove a left-footer across the face of goal, which Shave Sean Paul managed to push behind for a corner.

From the resulting inswinging free kick Portmore just managed to clear off their goal line.

However, immediately upon the resumption Portmore made their intentions known when Morris, a member of the Reggae Boyz' recent Gold Cup silver medal-winning side, blasted a left-footed effort marginally wide of Eric Hughes' right-hand post.

However, the visitors wasted a gilt-edged chance when Jose Murillo raced in behind the Portmore United defence and steered his shot inches wide of Shaven Sean Paul's goal frame.

The game began to open up and Michael Binns, another member of the Gold Cup squad, picked out Lynch with a peach of a pass from midfield, and the striker cushioned the ball perfectly on his chest before rifling a shot on goal; and though the ball beat Hughes, it rebounded off the right upright and back into play. However, Hughes was alert to deny Portmore United taking the lead with a smart save.

The home side then took the lead when Morris zipped past his marker down the left-hand channel and centred for Lynch to do the rest.

And Morris should have doubled the lead 10 minutes from the end, but his feeble effort was blocked on the line after Stephen Williams had done good work on the left to tee up his teammate.

Thomas said his team was prepared for the Panamanians.

“We watched a couple of games and we realised that they had some weaknesses, and our game plan was to exploit that weakness while keeping our shape.... we realised that they have a number 22 (Ortega) who likes to run the flank a lot on the right side and we wanted to exploit that space behind him.”

And despite a slender one-goal advantage going to Panama next week, Thomas remains confident.

“I have confidence in my players and they have confidence in themselves. We have the advantage, they have to come at us, but we are still going to play our game,” he said.

Portmore United, who became the first team from Jamaica to participate in the Scotiabank CONCACAF League after finishing third in the 2017 Caribbean Club Championship, will travel to the Central American country for next Wednesday's return leg, and with a ticket to the quarter-finals at stake.

The Scotiabank CONCACAF League will crown a champion from a field of 16 clubs which qualified from Central America and the Caribbean.

The eight Round of 16 winners will contest the quarter-finals from August 15-17, with the return legs on August 22-24.

The home-and-away final is slated for October. The tournament champion joins 15 additional club qualifiers from across the region, including Canada, Mexico and the United States of America in the revamped Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, which will have it's next edition from February through to April 2018.

The champion of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League will represent the region in the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup.

Portmore United - Shaven
Sean Paul, Andre Dyce,
Stephen Williams (Sue-Lae
McCalla 82nd), Ricardo Morris,
Jermie Lynch (Roshane Sharpe
75th), Osani Ricketts, Ewan
Grandison, Henrico Ricketts,
Michael Binns, Damion Binns,
Rondee Smith
Subs not used: Eric Edwards,
Richard Coates, Jeovanne
Shorter, Chavoy Malcolm,
Oshane Smith
Booked: Lynch (38th),
Osani Ricketts (57th), Sharpe
CD Plaza Amador - Eric
Hughes, Humberto Gomez,
Francisco Bethancourt (Edgar
Aparicio 68th), Ameth Ramirez
(Marlon Avila 67th), Algish
Dixon, Ernesto Sinclair, Lid
Carabali, Jose Murillo (Richard
Rodriquez 83rd), Luis Fraiz,
Sergio Ortega, Valentin Pimintel
Subs not used: Samuel
Castaneda, Luis Mendoza,
Damaso Santos, Daniel Blanco
Booked: Ortega (28th)
Referee: Armando Villarreal
Assistant Referee 1: Ainsley
Rochard (T&T)
Assistant Referee 2: Joseph
Bertrand (T&T)
Fourth Official: Hector
Rodriquez (Honduras)
Match Commissioner: Jose
Brenes La Roche (Puerto Rico)
Referee Assessor: John
Nielsen (Canada)
General Coordinator: Ewan Scott

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