ARNETT Gardens rebounded from an opening loss to get their first points on the board in the Jamaica Premier League (JPL), as they condemned Portmore United to a 2-1 defeat at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence yesterday.
The “Junglists”, who went down by a similar scoreline to defending champions Cavalier in game week one, made amends on this occasion with the come-from-behind victory.
Renaldo Cephas (14th minute) and Kimani Arbouine (44th) got the job done for Arnett Gardens after Shai Smith, with his second goal of the season, gave Portmore United a seventh-minute lead.
With the win, Arnett Gardens moved up to fourth on three points while Portmore United remain in seventh position on one point from their 1-1 draw with Tivoli Gardens last week.
It was a pacy start to what was always expected to be an intriguing clash, with Arnett Gardens getting off the first warning shot through Arbouine who forced a second-minute save from Eric Edwards, diving low to his weaker left side.
Arbouine was allowed to pull the trigger on a second occasion, but that effort ended up in the side netting.
Portmore United responded shortly after and, unlike their opponents, found the target to grab the ascendancy as Smith picked up a pass from Alvinus Myers and fired a thumping left-footer past William Price in goal for Arnett Gardens.
However, the lead was short-lived as Cephas, who earlier raced past defenders but had his shot blocked by Edwards, repeated the feat of using his pace to good effect. This time he glided by two defenders on his way towards goal where he easily slotted beyond hapless Edwards.
As the end-to-end action continued, Smith could have put Portmore United back in front two minutes past the half-hour mark, but the lanky striker sporting the number 10 jersey watched his effort come back off the crossbar.
Another tidy Portmore United build-up orchestrated by Leonardo Jibbison went begging after Jevick McFarlane, who was sent through on goal, lost his composure and punted the chance high and wide.
The Lenworth Hyde-coached Portmore United were later made to pay for their profligacy when Arbouine slipped the ball through the legs of former Reggae Boyz Captain Rudolph Austin to make space for a stinging, right-footed shot into the far corner which put Arnett Gardens 2-1 up at the break.
Arnett Gardens, taking orders from Dutchman Eric Rademakers in the absence of Paul “Tegat” Davis, picked up where they left off on the resumption, with Arbouine creating an opening four minutes in — but Cephas, who had space and time at the far post, skied his effort.
On the hour mark the menacing Smith again breached Arnett Gardens' defence, forcing Price to advance, which resulted in a pass across the face of goal for McFarlane who failed to get the crucial touch into an empty net.
From there, the game lost its tempo due to a number of stoppages resulting from injuries.
However, Arnett Gardens regained momentum in the latter stages and sought to add to their tally — but their last effort on goal through Marlon Martin was kept out by Edwards who left his line well.
Teams: Arnett Gardens – William Price, Earl Simpson, Gerald Neil, Kemoy Slowley, Damari Deacon (Fabian Reid 73rd), Ajuma Johnson (Renaldo Wright 63rd), Marlon Martin, Romeo Guthrie (Shande James 76th), Chavany Willis, Renaldo Cephas, Kimani Arbouine (Steve Clarke 76th)
Subs not used: Maximus Davis, Shemar Boothe, Bebeto McDonald, Rushike Kelson, Jonoy Cunningham
Booked: Willis (55th), Martin (66th), Price (77th)
Portmore United – Eric Edwards, Rudolph Austin, Gawain Austin (Zain Hylton 78th), Emelio Rousseau, Tajay Brown, Demar Rose, Alvinus Myers, Malike Stephens (Saneekie Burton 61st), Jevick McFarlane (Earon Elliott 61st), Shai Smith (Deandre Cunningham 69th), Leonardo Jibbison (Rivaldo Mitchell 61st)
Subs not used: Benjamin Williams, Stephen Young, Chevoy Watkins, Colin Wedderburn, Janeil Wray, Markland Burton
Booked: Rose (90th)
Referee: Nerissa Goldson
Assistant referees: Nicholas Anderson, Rolanzo Bennett
Fourth official: OHara Headley
Match Commissary: Martin Lyn
— Sherdon Cowan