Vere set to continue JPL adventure in quarter-final clash with Tivoli GardensSaturday, September 18, 2021
First-time quarter-finalistsVere United will take on Tivoli Gardens, five-time winners of the Jamaica Premier League, in the second quarter-final at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence at The UWI, starting at 2:30 pm today.
Vere United have been having a dream second season in the league, after a nightmare first season in 2019-2020.
The club only retained their status in the top flight after the cancellation of the premier league last season, but have grasped the second chance with both hands.
While none of the coaches employed in the first season in the league as Vere United could get it to work, the experienced Donovan Duckie has come in and worked his magic, even taking the club to the summit of the league for a few weeks.
The team is not replete with big names, but they have proven to be a unit that plays to instructions and plays for each other.
They boast the best defensive record in the league, with just seven goals conceded from 10 games played and it is their strength in defence, that has made them a force to be reckoned with this season.
Duckie had consistently downplayed his team's chances of going all the way this season, even when they were atop the table. He has, however, changed his tune in recent weeks, admitting after their final regular season game, that they were “in it to win it”.
The former national coach believes in “horses for courses” and will set out his team and approach the game based on his perceived strengths and weakness of his opponents. Having lost 0-1 to Tivoli in match week nine, the memories will be fresh in the mind of the Vere coach as to what needs to be corrected to prevent a repeat.
Tivoli Gardens head coach Phillip Williams is as pragmatic as they come and even though not getting the desired outcome of a direct spot in the semi-finals after a 1-1 draw with Molynes United last weekend, he will have his troops ready to go for their second win of the season over the team from Clarendon.
The West Kingston-based team has flown under the radar for the most part this season, but have been a model of consistency and will take some beating. They have won four games, drawn five and lost only once, so far this season.
They will draw confidence from their regular season record as they approach the quarter-finals with the sole aim of getting over this hurdle, in their quest for title number six.
While the likes of Devroy Grey and Anthony Nelson have been entrusted with the responsibility to lead the line for most of the season, Williams has consistently gone to his veteran and trump card, Jermaine “Teddy” Johnson, to steady the ship during challenging periods of games this season. The same can be expected at this critical juncture of the campaign.
Both coaches will be hoping for the advantage going into Wednesday's return leg, but neither is likely to be gung-ho in the first leg.
This game should be a cagey affair, with a single goal likely to separate them for a second time this season, if there is any.
Whether or not the game is full of goal-mouth action, it is expected to be an intriguing match-up between two good football minds in the local game.
— Dwayne Richards