JPL quarter-finals heat up Sabina Park tonight
HAVING enjoyed good form against some of the top teams up to this point in the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) season, Humble Lions’ Head Coach Andrew Price is expecting more of the same when his team bows into play-off action against reigning champions Harbour View at Sabina Park on Monday afternoon.
Both teams will be seeking to draw first blood in this opening leg of their quarter-final encounter scheduled for 7:30 pm, so too will Mount Pleasant and Dunbeholden FC who are set to lock horns in the 5 pm curtain-raiser.
While basking in the fact that they ended the regular season as the best defensive team — conceding on 15 goals in 26 games — Price knows it will matter very little without proper execution against an opponent bound to come good at this, the business end of the league.
“I think we have been competitive against the top teams throughout the entire season; we really put in some workmanlike performances and defensively we are sound,” Price said.
“But, I think we really need to put in some additional work in our offensive areas because we don’t get a lot of goals but every team that plays us, it’s very hard for them to score on us — so if we continue doing that, then maybe we will only need one goal to win a game. So, we are going to continue working on our finishing and give of our best.”
Price’s Clarendon-based outfit placed fifth in regular season, tallying 42 points and entering the play-off on the back of a four-match unbeaten run, while Harbour View, who placed fourth in the standings on 44 points, suffered a loss and a draw in their last two preliminary round contests.
Still, if the results of their last two meetings are anything to go by, then Harbour View, who won those fixtures by one-goal margins, should start slight favourites to again bag the points.
“We hope to continue in the same unbeaten vein because, like I said, it’s five games to get to the Premier League title,” Price said.
“So we just take those five games seriously and treat them for what they are…must-win games. It’s going to be a good, competitive game. Ourselves and Harbour View have a good, long-standing rivalry and so we expect it to be a very challenging game, but we are prepared and will be up to the task.”
Despite not ending the preliminary round on a high as anticipated, Harbour View’s scintillating run — from being out of contention to winning the title last year — is evidence of a team that peaks at the right time, and Head Coach Ludlow Bernard is optimistic of another successful run.
“We did well in the last round and could have done even better, but that is behind us now. We are now at the business end of the league and so we have to be competitive and consistent if we are to retain the title. So, I look forward to it and I expect a real good game,” Bernard said.
The curtain-raiser should also serve up a treat as Mount Pleasant, who placed third on 46 points, will be aiming to set the record straight against Dunbeholden FC to whom they lost their final preliminary round game 0-3 at Ferdie Neita Park last week.
That scoreline secured Dunbeholden’s spot in the play-off as they placed sixth on 41 points, edging out St Catherine neighbours Portmore United by a solitary point.
In fact, Dunbeholden enter today’s encounter on a three-match winning run, which signals that they are finding the bubble at the right time and, as such, will be brimming with confidence about lowering their St Ann-based opponents’ colours twice in quick succession.