Having failed to separate themselves in first-leg quarter-final action, all four teams in the play-offs will be eyeing significant improvements as all are faced with a must-win situation to keep their hopes of lifting this season’s Jamaica Premier League (JPL) title alive.
As such, both encounters are expected to serve up a treat with champions Cavalier Football Club and Mount Pleasant FA squaring off at 5:00 pm, while Arnett Gardens and Harbour View will take centre stage in the 7:30 pm feature of the double-header at Sabina Park today.
After a more cagey affair than was anticipated between Cavalier and their St Ann-based opponents resulted in a goal-less stalemate, both coaching staff would have done their assessments and will be hoping to put their respective firepower on display in this all-or-nothing encounter.
It is no secret that both teams possess enough ability in attack to do some damage, the only question left to be answered is whether or not they will go for it in regulation time or remain content and cagey with hopes of coming up trumps in the dreaded penalty shootout.
That, it appears, would be a last resort for Mount Pleasant’s Head Coach Nicky Eaden and his counterpart Rudolph Speid, though the latter would have fond memories that their first JPL title in 40 years was won from the 12-yard spot last year.
Still, whichever way it goes, a fresh and well-oiled Dunbeholden team awaits the winner for Sunday’s first-leg semi-final.
The same is true for the winner of the Arnett Gardens versus Harbour View contest, as they will match strides with the league’s most consistent team and title favourites Waterhouse.
Harbour View would have felt hard done by the 1-1 first-leg scoreline, as they took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Trayvone Reid’s well-taken penalty and later dominated most of the second half against an Arnett Gardens defensive line that looked a shadow of themselves.
But while Reid, who has nine goals to his credit this season and Colorado Murray had a field day in the attacking third, neither was able to add to their team’s tally and that left the door open for Arnett Gardens to hit back and extend their lengthy unbeaten record against the “Stars of the East”.
The prolific 20-year-old Marlon Allen again played saviour for the “Junglists” with a thumping right-footed finish on the break to register his 10th for the season.
But with that game done and dusted, the aim for Harbour View, who just squeezed into these play-offs, will be to replicate their performance with improvements in the final third to possibly put the game to rest early.
That was the main issue for Head Coach Ludlow Bernard, who, in his post-game assessment, was quick to point out that the end result wasn’t a true reflection of their performance and so his task is now to shore up the attacking front to get the job done.
His counterpart Paul “Tegat” Davis admitted that they were outplayed before coming into their own in the latter stages and he will be hoping that the momentum they ended the first leg with will come to the fore at the start of today’s encounter.
In fact, the veteran tactician believes his Arnett Gardens team has enough quality to lift the title for the first time since 2017 and sixth-time overall, but unless they are able to show it on the field, then that will obviously just be wishful thinking.
After Sunday’s first-leg semi-finals, the second-leg encounters will be played on June 29 with the final and third-placed game scheduled for July 3.
5:00 pm: Mount Pleasant FA vs Cavalier FC
7:30 pm: Arnett Gardens FC vs Harbour View FC
*Both games will be played at Sabina Park