Vere in firing line as Mt Pleasant seek rebound from first loss of season
DRAX HALL, St Ann — Champions Mt Pleasant FA will seek an instant rebound from their first loss of the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League season when they host Vere United in a first-round game at Drax Hall, set to start at 3:00 pm today.
Mt Pleasant FC had won six and drawn their other game before giving up a one-goal lead and losing to Cavalier SC on Monday, but still boast a four-point lead at the top of the table.
Also today, second-placed Arnett Gardens will be away to Humble Lions at Effortville in Clarendon; third-placed Tivoli Gardens host last-placed Molynes United at Stadium East, starting at 3:30 pm; Portmore United and Cavalier, separated by a point, will meet at Ferdie Neita Park, while Montego Bay United will be going for a third-straight win when they host Dunbeholden FC at WesPow Park in St James.
At Drax Hall the Theodore Whitmore-coached Mt Pleasant FA will be hoping to end a two-game winless run after they were held goalless by Waterhouse prior to their loss to Cavalier on Monday.
It is unsure if they will have their full squad available after at least one player, national representative Demario Phillips, had to seek medical attention after the vehicle he and other members of the club were travelling in was involved in a three-unit accident near to the club’s base in Drax Hall, St Ann, as they returned from from a training session last week.
Whitmore should have a competitive team nonetheless, with midfielder Kimoney Bailey expected to return after sitting out the loss to Cavalier.
Marlon Allen, who came off the bench on Monday, Romeo Guthrie and Devonte Campbell could be in the starting line-up.
Vere United have won two of their last three games, are in eighth place on 11 points, and will be relying on Kemar Beckford who once donned the colours of Mt Pleasant.
Teenager Dunstin Cohen and Suejay Graham are also goal threats for Vere United who scored just 15 goals last season and barely avoided relegation.
Arnett Gardens are also hoping to put last week’s results, a 1-1 draw away to Lime Hall Academy, behind them but face a Humble Lions team that could make life tough for them.
Kimani Arbourine, Shai Smith and Jaheim Thomas have combined to score eight of Arnett Gardens’ 14 goals so far, and they will hope to exploit the Humble Lions defence that has given up 11 goals in seven games.
Javon Smith and Andrew Vanzie have both scored two goals each for Humble Lions and will hope to slow down the Arnett Gardens team at home.
Tivoli Gardens are arguably the most improved team from last year’s competition, and could equal last season’s total number of wins if they can get three points from Molynes United who have yet to win a game in nine starts.
Justin Dunn is one of the surprises of the season as he leads the goalscoring tables with nine in just eight games and, along with Howard Morris who also has three goals, will be hoping to apply pressure on the Molynes United team.
Cavalier SC have picked up some momentum winning their last two and are unbeaten in their last five games, after losing their opening game against Montego Bay United, and will face a Portmore United team who are winless in four.
Cavalier will be without influential defender Jeovanni Laing who was sent off in the second half against Mt Pleasant FA on Monday.
The Rudolph Speid-coached Cavalier have managed 10 goals in their last five outings, led by Antiguan Jalmaro Calvin and Christopher Ainsworth, but they will hope Shaniel Thomas, who was the top scorer in the Concacaf Caribbean Cup, will get on the scoresheet as well.
Portmore United are in fourth place on 12 points, just one more than Cavalier SC, but must turn around their current form if they are to stay in their current position. They have scored just four goals in their last five games.
After two mostly miserable seasons since their return to the Premier League, Montego Bay United will be seeking three wins in a row for the first time since late in the 2017-18 season when they beat Tivoli Gardens, Reno FC and Sandals Whitehouse.
The former champions are coming off back-to-back tough wins — emerging from behind to beat Portmore United 3-2 and holding off promoted Treasure Beach 2-1 last weekend — and will have their tails up.
Former Premier League top scorer Brian Brown scored both goals against Treasure Beach, while all three goals against Portmore United came from Denri Williams and Deonjay Brown who were getting their first goals at this level.
Dunbeholden gave up a two-goal lead on Sunday and had to desperately hang on to earn a draw against Tivoli Gardens, but they are unbeaten in their last four games.
Nicholas Nelson has scored all six of Dunbeholden’s goals this season, and Montego Bay United must keep an eye on him if they are to extend their winning run.