Cavalier, Mount Pleasant battle in JPL play-off
...Arnett Gardens, Harbour View also vie for last four
Arnett Gardens player Gerald Neil (left) and Mount Pleasant’s Trivante Stewart vie for the ball during a Jamaica Premier League match at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex in May 2022. (Photo: Jason Tulloch)

HAVING had their six-match unbeaten run broken on the final day of the preliminary rounds, reigning Jamaica Premier League (JPL) champions Cavalier Football Club will be hoping for a quick turnaround in form when they face Mount Pleasant FA in first-leg quarter-final action today.

This 7:00 pm contest will be the feature game of a double-header as former champions Arnett Gardens and Harbour View lock horns in the 5:00 pm curtain-raiser at Sabina Park.

Though they were gradually knocked off their stride by Tivoli Gardens last week, Cavalier should still be high on confidence heading into today’s encounter, given they are yet to lose to Mount Pleasant this season.

In fact, it was only two weeks ago that they defeated their St Ann-based opponents 3-1 so the possibility of a repeat is well on the cards.

Should they replicate that performance, the Rudolph Speid-coached Cavalier who finished fifth in the preliminary round standings would give themselves a good enough cushion ahead of Thursday’s second-leg tie.

Though the previous result favours Cavalier, Mount Pleasant will no doubt fancy their chances as they enter the contest on a strong surge of form, having bettered Portmore United last week.

On the surface it may not seem like much, given Portmore United’s struggles all season, but Mount Pleasant’s Head Coach Nicky Eaden and his charges, who placed fourth in the standings, are expected to ride that momentum at this crucial stage of the season.

Both Cavalier and Mount Pleasant are good ball-moving teams, but the former is more defensively astute while the latter possesses more attacking and goalscoring ability — which makes for another intriguing contest with all to play for on this occasion.

Like Mount Pleasant, Arnett Gardens will enter their game against Harbour View with winning momentum, bettering table-toppers Waterhouse FC 4-2 and Tivoli Gardens 3-1 in exciting encounters.

By all indications, the “Junglists”, who placed third on the league standings, are overwhelmingly favoured to draw first blood against a team that just managed to eke out the final play-off spot.

Not only have Arnett Gardens been more consistent and clinical this season, but their hunger and desire to reclaim their status in the nation’s top flight league have been evident from the start. A continued display of those qualities could very well see them hoisting the title for the first time since 2017 and sixth time overall, on July 3.

But, the games have to be played. And while they blanked Harbour View 3-0 in their most recent meeting, there is no guarantee that the outcome will be the same on this occasion.

For Harbour View, who just edged Humble Lions and Tivoli Gardens on goal difference for the coveted sixth position after all three teams ended on 28 points, making the play-off represents a step in the right direction but they will be aware that significant improvements are required if they are to go much further.

The threat that Arnett Gardens possesses is no secret to Ludlow Bernard’s side, and their best bet will be to nullify those attacking traits and spring a surprise or two on the counter.

The quarter-final winners on aggregate will join Waterhouse and Dunbeholden in the semi-final.

MONDAY’S GAMES

5:00 pm — Harbour View FC vs Arnett Gardens FC

7:00 pm — Cavalier FC vs Mount Pleasant FA

Both games set for Sabina Park.

BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

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