Speid's boys take 1-0 first-leg lead over defending JPL champs Harbour View
Harbour View's Timar Lewis (left) braces under the challenge of Cavalier's Gadail Irving during leg one of their Jamaica Premier League semi-final at Sabina Park in Kingston on Monday. (Photo: Karl McLarty)

CAVALIER have the advantage after their first-leg Jamaica Premier League semi-final against defending champions Harbour View.

Orlando Russell got the lone goal in minute 51 for Cavalier, the 2021 champions, at Sabina Park on Monday evening.

Cavalier Technical Director Rudolph Speid is pleased with the result, saying his tactics of containing Harbour View for the first 90 minutes of the contest worked.

"Our aim was just not to concede and keep the game as close as we could — and whatever we got, we took it," he said after the game. "If you had asked me at the start of the game if I'd take a 1-0 lead and not play I'd say, 'Yes I'll take it.' So, I'm grateful."

But Harbour View Head Coach Ludlow Bernard is confident he can guide his team to the final next week.

"If I don't have the ambition to overturn the game [then] I don't deserve to be in this competition at all," he told reporters after the game. "It's a 1-0 lead; it's still a lead that can be overturned and we just have to apply ourselves the next time.

"I'm not gonna say it's not difficult but at the same time it's achievable that we can overturn the lead."

Speid expects Harbour View to attack from the first minute in the second leg but says Cavalier will be ready.

"They're not going down easily; they're the defending champions and are going to try to retain their title," he said. "When teams have to hunt goals there are certain characteristics about them, so we're going to just try to figure out what we can do to make life hard for them and hope we can get the first goal in the second leg. I think we need another goal — I don't think one is enough."

Cavalier started the brighter of the teams, with Collin Anderson flicking just wide from mere yards off the goal line.

Gadail Irving also had a chance early on, forcing a save out of Harbour View's Romario Palma.

Harbour View also had their chances, with Timar Lewis firing wide of the mark around the 20th minute of play.

He had a much closer effort in minute 38 when he flicked a ball played into him unto goal, beating Cavalier goalkeeper Vino Barclett, but the ball could only roll across the face of goal.

But Cavalier got the breakthrough they needed in minute 51. Jerome McLeary timed his run into the box perfectly to meet a well-floated ball into the area. Instead of shooting himself, he decided to head the ball across the face of goal into the path of Orlando Russell, who was unmarked at the back post to tap into the empty net.

Cavalier should have doubled the advantage minutes later as another well-weighted long ball from midfield found Anderson down their right side. He had little challenge shaking off the defender but when he went face to face with Palma he placed his shot straight at him.

"Collin had a glorious opportunity to make it 2-0 and I think if we had scored that we probably could've gotten more," Speid said.

That was as close as any effort came after the goal.

Bernard admits that Harbour View's attacking needs focus in training over the coming week. He also mentioned the lack of adequate numbers in his squad as a factor.

"We weren't really creative inside the last third, and I think that really hurt us quite a bit," he said. "The lack of a genuine number nine is probably killing us right now.

"We showed enough here and we did enough here today to show that we can dominate the team but we need to show that dominance in terms of converting and creating a little bit more."

The teams will meet again at the same venue on Monday.

BY RACHID PARCHMENT Digital sports coordinator

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