Mount Pleasant secure lead to advance to JPL semisThursday, September 23, 2021
BY SHERDON COWAN
Having done most of the hard work in the first leg, Mount Pleasant Football Academy did just enough to book another Jamaica Premier League (JPL) semi-final berth, as they came from behind to secure a 1-1 stalemate with Harbour View in their second-leg quarter-final clash, for a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.
Mount Pleasant entered yesterday's contest at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence with what seemed a comfortable 3-1 advantage, but they were gradually made to sweat when Oshane Staple gave Harbour View a fourth-minute lead.
However, the highly thought-of Jourdain Fletcher, who was also a scorer in the first leg, once again got on the scoresheet with a 62nd minute strike, as a substitute on this occasion.
Fletcher's goal, his fifth in as many games, virtually ensured that the St Ann-situated team repeated the semi-final feat of their fairy-tale 2019 debut season in the nation's top-flight league.
They are now set to square off against Waterhouse, while Tivoli Gardens, who were 4-0 winners over Vere United, will battle Cavalier in the other semi-final on Saturday at the same venue.
Mount Pleasant FA were breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the game as very little fell for them, particularly in the first half where Harbour View threatened.
Sloppy football by Mount Pleasant in their defensive third opened the door for the go-ahead goal and Harbour View duly obliged through Staple, who burst into the 18-yard box and competently slotted to the right of the advancing Shaven Paul doing duties between the sticks.
That much-needed goal, Staple's first of the season, changed the complexion of the game for both teams, as Harbour View started playing with more belief, while Mount Pleasant were forced to lower their attacking line.
Though the league's leading scorer Oquassa Chong (six goals) was rendered ineffective in the contest, Staple took up the mantle and marshalled proceedings in a decent passage of play for Harbour View.
The 23-year-old orchestrated a tidy build-up in the 16th minute which opened up space for Lennox Russell to whip in a weighted cross which Tevin Scott deflected towards goal and just wide of the right upright.
At the half-hour mark, Staple was at it again, hitting a powerful right-footer from a distance, but Paul got across his line well in time to parry.
Mount Pleasant found their footing in the attacking third in the latter stages of the half but failed to produce anything meaningful on goal as the score remained 1-0 at the break.
Fletcher, who is said to be carrying an injury, was introduced immediately upon resumption and made his presence felt six minutes in with a telling corner that bounced ominously in the six-yard box.
But neither young Devante Campbell at the near post nor the more experienced Kesslan Hall at the far post could get a crucial touch.
Harbour View tried to maintain their own tempo but just couldn't replicate their first-half performance.
And as fate would have it, Fletcher added to their woes two minutes past the hour mark.
A long kick out from Paul bounced deep in Harbour View's defensive third and caused a mix-up between defender Casseam Priestly and goalkeeper Tafari Chambers as both were hesitant in going for the ball.
Fletcher, with excellent attacking awareness, briskly intervened and cheekily lobbed the ball over a hapless Chambers to restore Mount Pleasant's two-goal cushion on aggregate.
Mount Pleasant almost added to their tally in the 76th minute when Sue-Lae McCalla saw an opening and decided to take it from a distance, but his stinging left-footed effort was tipped over by a watchful Chambers.
With time running out, Harbour View had one last bite of the cherry when Priestly's well-taken free-kick from just over 20 yards out took a deflection off a Mount Pleasant defender, but Paul was alert enough to turn it outside the post.