Title on the line - Norwood Strikes take slim lead into 2nd leg St James/FA finals
MONTEGO BAY, St James - Norwood Striker holds a slim one-nil lead going into Sunday's return leg finals of the St James Football Association's Senior League against Little Miami at Jarrett Park, after Monday's first leg at the same venue.
Hernando Hayles' second half goal gave Norwood the edge in Monday's game that was played in wet, outcast conditions against the mid-season champions and pre-season favourites.
Hayles, who had stepped up to score a penalty in the first leg of the semi-finals against North Gully Ambassadors to earn a 1-1 draw for his team-- before coming from behind to win the return leg — scored the winner in the 78th minute after Little Miami had dominated the game for long periods.
The team that played in the Division Two competition only two seasons ago will secure a massive upset if they manage to pull off the win over the two-time finalists and book their third straight promotion, by moving to the Western Conference Super League next season.
A loss for Norwood, however, would see them suffer a third straight let down after losing in two successive finals in the Division Two and Division One competitions in successive seasons.
Despite being favourites, Norwood had lost to Kempshot in the Division Two finals in the 2009/2010 season and to Rosemount Gardens in the Division One final in the 2010/2011 season.
Hayles, Kamal Smith and Alex Smith will lead the Norwood attack against a Little Miami defence that was the best in Zone A during the regular season.
Little Miami who had turned back Montego Bay Boys Club over two leg of their semi-finals, are seeking to atone for last season's close loss in the final to Fogo United, missing out on promotion to the Super League.
Little Miami scored 18 goals in the regular season, the most by any team, and top marksmen Androcle Poyser, Almondo Kelly and Always Simmonds who combined for 12 goals will seek to at least get them back on level terms early in Sunday's game.