Cavalier claim final JPL semi-final spot after Tivoli stumbleSunday, September 12, 2021
CAVALIER FC sensationally squeezed into the semi-finals of the Jamaica Premier League, only three weeks after they were seemingly set to miss out on play-off football altogether, when they edged Vere United 1-0 at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence yesterday.
Nestled down in seventh place, one spot outside the play-offs, yet still within touching distance of the leaders, Cavalier only had themselves to blame for their precarious position after throwing away at least four points from winning positions.
However, two wins in a row, at the tail end of the season, have seen them leapfrog five teams to finish second behind Waterhouse FC and claim the second spot in the regular season.
But things could have been so different had Tivoli Gardens FC, who finished match week 10 in second place, beaten Molynes United in the early game yesterday.
Tivoli spurned the opportunity when they were held 1-1 by a Molynes United team that began the day with nothing to play for.
Meanwhile, Cavalier FC owe their spot in the semi-final spot to a late goal from Kyle Ming in the final match of match week 11 and the final match of the regular season.
Despite the high stakes that both teams had to play for, the match between Cavalier and Vere was a slow burner, as neither team seemed likely take full control of the contest in the first half, although Cavalier seemed to be the team most likely.
With Dwayne Atkinson and Shaniel Thomas leading the line, Cavalier showed more endeavour in the second half and slowly turned the screws as the game wore on. Despite having the better of play, Cavalier failed to trouble Kadeem Davis in the Vere goal for most of the game.
The match appeared to be heading for a draw with Mount Pleasant FA, who occupied second spot after their win on Friday, set to claim that vital semi-final place.
But the game was decided following consistent Cavalier pressure. Atkinson, who had been very busy in attack, got off a shot inside the box after creating a yard of space, but the ball deflected off a defender, over a static Kadeem Davis in the Vere goal, on to the crossbar and behind for a corner kick.
Vere failed to clear their lines properly from the set piece and then Melvin Doxilly provided the pass of the afternoon for the overlapping Ming who finished more like a striker than the wing back that he is.
The finish was powerful and certain as Cavalier claimed three vital points and a small break while they await the team that will emerge to face them from the quarter-final round.
Earlier, Tivoli Gardens missed out on an opportunity to grab the second automatic spot that would take them into the semi-finals as they had to come from behind to earn a 1-1 draw by Molynes United.
Tyreke Wilson put Molynes ahead in the 79th minute but Stephen Barnett responded four minutes later in the 82nd minute to set up a grandstand finish.
The game began in very hot conditions and with the sprinkler system down it made it very challenging for the players, who required a number of stoppages for water.
Evroy Grey should have put Tivoli ahead when he was played through one on one with goalkeeper Leon Taylor, but he fired straight at the custodian with the goal at his mercy.
Tivoli were playing like a team on a mission and kept Molynes pinned inside their own half — but they failed to turn a number of half chances into real goalscoring opportunities.
Defender Odean Pennycooke fired high from a tight angle after overlapping down the right, late in the half, as Tivoli continued to press for the go-ahead goal.
Tivoli always seemed the more likely team to score but it was Molynes who broke the deadlock when Wilson steered the ball home from close range, against the run of play.
Barnett, who was brought on in the 53rd minute, was on the end of a right-sided cross from another substitute, Davion Garrison, to power home a header at the near post and restore parity for his team.
Barnett himself and Grey both got opportunities to put the game to bed after the Tivoli equaliser but were unable to find that elusive goal to clinch the semi-final spot.
Tivoli will now await the draw to see who they will play in the quarter-final round, while Molynes end a disappointing season on seven points.
The top six teams to advance to the play-offs are Waterhouse and Cavalier —who go straight into the semi-finals — along with Mount Pleasant, Tivoli Gardens, Vere United and Harbour View who will do battle in the quarter-final round.
— Dwayne Richards
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