Sports

Willis revels in derby double for Portmore

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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A second-half brace — including a peach of a free kick that had brought his team level at 1-1 — and a stoppage time winner to help champions Portmore United to a 3-2 win and remain atop the Red Stripe Premier League at the end of the first round, marked a man of the match performance from Chavany Willis on Sunday.

Dubbed the Portmore Derby, the clash between Portmore United and the newly promoted Dunbeholden FC was always going to be a tricky tie for the league leaders at the small Royal Lakes field.

As the visitors struggled to adjust to the smaller parameters compared to the Spanish Town Prison Oval, Dunbeholden took advantage to not only dominate the contest, but score the opening goal just before the half-hour mark, when Clayon Pusey slotted home from a counter-attack.

But derby games always bring goals, so one goal was unlikely to settle the contest between the two, and the fact the Portmore lead the league in goals scored was also an ominous sign for the team propping up the tables.

Willis made his first big impact on the game when he banged home a free kick from 25 yards out in the 62nd minute. His fierce drive into the roof of the net left goalkeeper Eric Edwards grasping at air.

The joyful Portmore fans were still celebrating the equaliser when Roshane Sharpe had the easiest of finishes to put Portmore ahead. A simple tap in from four yards out after a huge mix-up in the Dunbeholden defence by the striker meant the visitors were ahead for the first time.

And the goals kept coming, as the hosts drew level when Nickoy Christian found the back of the net from 12 yards, after the awarding of a penalty for a handball.

The game appeared to be heading for a draw when Willis started and ended the most decisive move of the game.

The midfielder was whistled for a foul for charging into the back of an opponent at the half line, for stealing the ball while preventing the taking of a quick free kick.

While the Dunbeholden defenders stood and watched, three Portmore players stormed forward, including Willis, in a three-on-one situation. He side-footed home a left-sided cross from eight yards in the second minute of added time to seal the points for his team and double his tally of last season.

His celebrations after the goal in front of the opposing fans suggest the next two meetings this season will be just as intense as their first-ever “Portmore Derby” in the RSPL.

“We came to play and we wanted to finish this round strong and be at the top of the table to start the second round strong,” said a satisfied Willis. “We came out here to get the three points and we have done the job.”

The 21-year-old was pleased with his own match-winning performance that helped his team retain their position as league leaders.

“I feel very happy about my performance today; it's all about the second half. First half we didn't play the type of game we should play but second half we really came out and did the job,” noted Willis.

Despite the clearly much smaller pitch, the Dele Alli fan says they were not troubled by the size of the field even though his team appeared to need time adjusting.

“We don't have a problem with the field, we just came out here to play,” he insisted.

Willis, who currently plays the holding role for Portmore, wants to be able to have a bigger impact in the attacking area of the pitch.

“I am the holding midfielder at Portmore now but I see myself as a box to box player, so I definitely want to play higher up the pitch,” he revealed as one of his personal ambitions.

The National Under-23 player marks himself hard and by the standards set, clearly has a lot of work left to do this term.

“I want to have a great season on an individual level and I want the team to retain our title. This is my second good game of the season; I need to work on the defensive part of my game now,” he disclosed.

With a target of 10 goals among his top ambitions this season, along with a possible contract overseas, the 2016 Manning Cup and Olivier Shield winner with Jamaica College is looking to push on throughout the holiday season and into the new year, as he continues to make his mark in the Premier League.

— Dwayne Richards

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