Sport

Portmore United deliver paralysing defeat to MBU

MBU 1 Williams (82nd) Portmore United 2 Solomon (19th), Smith (89th)

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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TUCKER, St James — Montego Bay United's (MBU) run of making it past the regular season in the Red Stripe Premier League grounded to a halt on Sunday, after they lost 1-2 to leaders Portmore United and now cannot advance to the play-offs.

Rondee Smith came off the substitute' bench to score the winner for Portmore United, who moved to 66 points minutes after Dino Williams had brought his team level from the penalty spot.

Damono Solomon had headed the league-leaders into the lead in the 19th minute and the back-to-back loss was Montego Bay United's third game without a win, after a four-game unbeaten run had seen them climb as high as fifth place.

With a game to go, the two-time champions are in eighth position on 41 points, six points from the sixth position, while Portmore United extended their lead to 16 points over second-placed Arnett Gardens, who have also qualified for the play-offs.

Once again, MBU coach Timothy Hankinson was left to bemoan what could have been.

“The attacks were not dangerous enough throughout the third round… the defence was letting in sloppy goals... we talked about it all week about how you have to have a greater desire to get to the ball, attack the ball. We did not do it on the first goal and then fall asleep when it is 1-1 at home in front of the home fans,” said the American.

Hankinson, who indicated he would not be returning to the club next season, said: “It's a simple fact that this team this year probably have more to give from the standpoint of using that talent in a positive way, but they didn't and therefore this team was not good enough.”

After winning the league format of the competition several rounds previously, Portmore United's coach Shavar Thomas admitted the coaching staff had their work cut out for them to keep the players focused.

“We have confidence in what we have been doing all season and we have some players who are hungry and professional, and they come out and work hard every day,” he said.

“Because we won the league so long ago early, the focus tends to drift and we get relaxed. But that's why we are here, to keep them focused and on the straight and narrow,” added the former Jamaica defender.

Portmore United should have gone ahead as early as the second minute, but Jovan East headed the ball over the crossbar from about two yards out after the ball had come off the 'woodwork' from a corner.

Ronaldo Rodney got MBU's first chance at goal in the 11th minute when he had Portmore United's goalkeeper Shaven Paul stranded at the near right post, but missed the far post by inches.

The league-leaders went ahead in the 19th minute when Solomon made no mistake with a firm header past goalkeeper Zavhia Hutchinson from another corner.

Odane Nish, who was starting his first game for MBU since December, had a good chance to pull his team level in the 21st minute, but his header was blocked at the near post by Paul and then hit the rebound into the side netting.

With Portmore United dropping their intensity in the second half, MBU were given freedom to go forward, but it was the MBU goalkeeper who was called on to make two big saves, both off Ricardo Morris.

MBU were caught on a swift counter early in the half, and despite being outnumbered two to one, Hutchinson kept his cool and robbed Morris of the ball, conceding a corner.

Later in the game, he was well-placed to block a point-blank blast from Morris.

MBU eventually levelled the score when Williams powered the ball past Paul from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute for his 10th goal of the season, after a defender had handled the ball while trying to clear it.

Williams should have given his team the lead two minutes later when he was served up a delightful pass from Johann Weatherly who outmuscled a Portmore defender, but the striker hit the ball inches wide with Paul rooted to his goal line.

The home team were made to pay for their wastefulness as Portmore United marched down the field and snatched the winner, catching the defence napping and allowing Smith to power the ball high into the goal past Hutchinson.

Teams:

Montego Bay United — Zavhia Hutchinson, Orlando McBayne, John Barrett, Ladale Richie, Odane Nish (Johann Weatherly-46th), Keniel Kirlew, Dwayne Ambusley, Lesley St Fleur, Ronaldo Rodney, Dino Williams, Jermaine Woozencroft (Jeffroy Leslie-65th).

Subs not used: Deron Duncan, Winston Wilkinson, Anthony Drummond, Geovanni Reid, Pagiel Brown

Booked: Richie (35th)

Portmore United — Shaven Paul, Damono Solomon, Rosario Harriott, Osani Ricketts, Roberto Johnson, Ewan Grandison, Kemar Philpott (Chevanny Willis-90+3), Venton Evans (Henrico Ricketts-69th), Saneekie Burton, Ricardo Morris, Javon East (Rondee Smith-78th).

Subs not used: Kemar Foster, Shaquille Dyer, Roshane Sharpe, Shai Smith

Booked: Phillpot (90+2)

Referee: Oshane Nation

Assistants: Jermaine Yee-singh, Oyinco McTaggart

Fourth official: Okeeto Nicholson

Match commissary: Marvin Peterkin

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