Waterhouse, Mount Pleasant hunt first blood in first-leg semiSaturday, September 25, 2021
BY SHERDON COWAN
Waterhouse Football Club did well enough to finish at the summit of the table at the end of the preliminary round in the truncated Jamaica Premier League (JPL) season, but now comes the time when their form is expected to matter most, as they square off against Mount Pleasant Football Academy in first-leg semi-final action today.
Game time is 2:30 pm, after Tivoli Gardens Football Club and Cavalier Football Club clash in the 12:00 noon curtain-raiser of the double-header at the University of the West Indies-Jamaica Football Federation Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence.
Having only lost one of their 10 first-round games, winning five and drawing four, Waterhouse will journey to the venue as the overwhelming favourite to grab the early advantage.
The Drewsland team enters today's contest well-rested on the back of a five-match unbeaten run, and by all indications, the goal is to extend that record against a Mount Pleasant team which they defeated 2-0 in their sole meeting thus far this season.
They have scored 18 goals and conceded eight, while Mount Pleasant scored 13, conceded 10 in their record of five wins, three draws and two losses.
Still, this contest holds mouth-watering prospects given the quality of both teams and it is anybody's guess which will come out on top of what should be a tactical battle from the very first whistle.
Both teams are virtually relishing consecutive appearances at this point of the league, having both made the semi-final in 2019, where Waterhouse went on to lose in the final to Portmore United, who bettered Mount Pleasant in their two-legged tie.
Add to that the fact that Waterhouse seemed well on their way to cop their first title since 2014 when the league was declared null and void by the country's football governing body due to the novel coronavirus pandemic last year.
It is interesting to note that Mount Pleasant, on 53 points, were not too far behind Waterhouse on 54 points after 29 games in the scrapped season, which underlines the credentials of both teams and their title aspirations.
The two rivals, who have both shown some consistent form throughout the campaign so far, know what each brings to the table and while Waterhouse's head coach Marcel “Fuzzy” Gayle and his counterpart, Englishman Wally Downes, pen their respective plans, the onus will be on the players to execute efficiently on the day.
For Waterhouse, Shaquille Bradford and Andre Fletcher with five goals each so far this season, are expected to lead the attack line, supported by veteran Rafeik Thomas and Colorado Murray, while captain Nicholy Finlayson will be charged with marshalling his troops at the back to nullify Mount Pleasant's assault.
Meanwhile, the St Ann-situated Mount Pleasant are hoping that leading striker Jourdain Fletcher (five goals) regains full fitness to play the entire 90-plus minutes, with Kesslon Hall (four goals) and young Devonte Campbell – a product of their Football Academy – to offer support.
The likes of Captain Ladale Richie, Kevin Layne and Alwayne Harvey are expected to hold the defensive line.