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'Bibi' boost as Portmore look to bag $1-million preliminary bounty

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Former Harbour View coach Ricardo “Bibi” Gardner has joined the Portmore United coaching staff and is expected to be on the bench for their crucial game against Waterhouse today at the Spanish Town Prison Oval.

According to impeccable Jamaica Observer sources, the 40-year-old Gardner, who resigned as head coach of Harbour View in December, will take over from Shavar Thomas who is expected to take up a coaching job overseas at the end of the season.

At the moment, Thomas will continue to lead Portmore, but the club is fashioning a smooth transition with Gardner to assist, alongside Kevin Deer for the time being.

The Portmore/Waterhouse game is one of six matches on today, all starting at 3:30 pm, the time all remaining preliminary round matches will be played. Only two rounds remain in this phase of the competition.

In other games: Arnett Gardens host Dunbeholden; Cavalier take on Harbour View; Mount Pleasant travel to Reno; Humble Lion versus Tivoli Gardens and the University of the West Indies tackle Montego Bay United.

With $1 million up for grabs for the preliminary round champion, leaders Portmore United on 59 points hold a four-point advantage over second-placed Waterhouse on 54 points.

A win for Waterhouse would reduce the lead to a single point and make things very interesting, while a win for Portmore United would secure the bounty with two games remaining.

Both teams have met twice this season, and on both occasions, they battled to 2-2 and 1-1 draws. With the play-offs looming, the hunt for that psychological advantage could be gained with victory in today's game.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, the deadly relegation dogfight continues and bottom-placed team Reno on 23 points could be relegated if they fail to beat Mount Pleasant at Frome.

The Westmoreland-based Reno are four points behind Montego Bay United and critically, eight points adrift of both Harbour View and Humble Lion on 31 points with only two games remaining after today's match.

Former champions Montego Bay United in 11th spot on 27 points could also be relegated if they lose and both Harbour View and Humble Lion win. Montego Bay United have a difficult game against a UWI team clinging onto the sixth and final play-off spot on 43 points.

After scoring a long overdue win on Sunday, Harbour View will be looking to consolidate their position when they play Cavalier at the Stadium East field. Harbour View are just four points above the relegation zone in 10th spot on 31 points, while Cavalier are fourth on 50 points and already into the play-offs.

At Effortville Community Centre, seventh-placed Tivoli Gardens on 39 points will be hoping to keep their slim play-offs hopes alive when they play Humble Lion, sitting in ninth spot on 31 points and looking anxiously over their shoulders.

Having climbed to what appeared to be safety, Dunbeholden in eighth spot on 32 points travel to the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex to play fifth-placed Arnett Gardens on 44 points and looking to secure their play-off berth.

— Howard Walker