Sport

Third-time lucky!

Portmore claim 6th RSPL title after penalty shoot-out

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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Portmore United became the most successful team in premier league history after defeating Waterhouse 4-3 on penalties following their 0-0 draw in normal and extra time for a record sixth title inside the National Stadium on Monday Night.

Having won their first title as Hazard United in 1993 and again in 2003, then following a name change to Portmore United and a confederation change from Clarendon to St Catherine, they won further titles in 2005, 2008 and 2012.

The champions walked away with a whopping $2.5m and a beautiful trophy to add to their $1m for being preliminary champions for a total winning prize of $3.5m. Waterhouse FC pocketed $1.5m for the runners-up spot.

After losing the last two Red Stripe Premier League finals, Portmore United were third-time lucky and left Arnett Gardens, Tivoli Gardens and Santos on five titles each.

Winning coach Shavar Thomas was soaking not from champagne but from perspiration as his team battled hard for just over two hours to get the monkey off their back.

Although it was Portmore's sixth title, it was the first time for Thomas as head coach, and he was ecstatic.

“I am very elated, very happy,” the former Reggae Boyz captain told the Jamaica Observer.

“It's a lot of hard work we put in all season and to come out on top at this point is a good feeling,” he added.

“As it relates to the game, it was even stevens for the most part. We got our chances, they got their chances. We expected them to be really compact because that's what they have done in their past three games and hope that their front four would create something for them which they have been doing. But we nullified that today,” said Thomas.

“This is very sweet because it is my first major title as a head coach and hopefully it's the first of many,” he added.

Meanwhile, losing coach Donovan Duckie was left to ponder what could have been as his Waterhouse team played above expectations and could easily have won.

“It's nothing to be shamed about; we will be back,” Duckie said after taking Waterhouse from just above the relegation zone to the brink of the title.

“It could have gone either way and I must say congratulation to Portmore. Hard work with the element of luck always pay off,” he noted.

“It's their third consecutive final but we kept them busy and I thought we were the better team. Football is a game of moments and we had more dangerous moments in front of goal,” Duckie explained.

He continued: “I am very proud, it was a good season. No one knew we were going to be here.”

Both teams started tentatively in a first half that failed to live up to expectations, but the second half and extra time gave the fans something to cheer about.

The first real chance came in the 53rd minute as Portmore's Saneekie Burton ghosted in at the back post but kicked straight into the arms of goalkeeper Diego Haughton. Just a few seconds later, Waterhouse's Andre McFarlane skipped by Damano Solomon and with goalkeeper Kemar Foster to beat, hit the upright.

The skilful McFarlane drove at the defence once again and found Tremaine Stewart, who blasted high from inside the box in minute 58. Then two minutes later, Kemar Beckford saw his header cleared off the line. Waterhouse's Shawn Lawes also headed off the line.

In the 66th minute, Jermie Lynch breached the Waterhouse backline down the right but his pass ran agonizingly across the goa mouth, begging to be touched.

The normally lethal Javon East latched onto a through ball but fired straight at the goalkeeper in the 81st minute.

With normal time finishing 0-0, 30 minutes of extra time were needed and Waterhouse seemed to be the fitter team and they swarmed over Portmore United looking for that elusive goal that would have turned head coach Donovan Duckie into an immortal. But it never came despite the team dominating the extra period.

So onto the dreaded penalty kicks and Waterhouse's top scorer Kemar Beckford was first up and saw his tame spot kick saved before Ewan Grandison tucked away Portmore's first kick, an advantage they never relinquished.

Ricardo Johnson, Damano Solomon and Jermie Lynch converted for Portmore, while Cardel Benbow, Allan Ottey and Tremaine Stewart netted for Waterhouse before veteran Carlos Barrett missed their fifth attempt and handed the trophy to Portmore United.

Despite the efforts of the security forces, Portmore fans stormed the field as they celebrated with their team. It had been a long wait after losing the last two finals to Montego Bay in 2016 and Arnett Gardens in 2017 and they duly celebrated in style.

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