Harbour View ……3 Wolfe (14th), R Edwards (34th), JR Edwards (62nd) Benfica ………..1 Reid (90th+)
Champions Harbour View kept the small flicker of their title defence alive with a comfortable 3-1 win over relegation battlers Benfica at the Compound on Sunday night, although it was a result that still leaves them 10 points adrift of Tivoli Gardens with just six games remaining.
But they will fight until the last breath and they showed their intent from the off, with John-Ross Edwards, celebrating a recent call-up the national squad, firing narrowly over from 30 yards with no more than 15 seconds on the clock. A further warning to the visitors came in the fourth minute when Romario Campbell, also now training with the Reggae Boyz, bent a free-kick wide of the post.
But the St Ann side were allowed no more chances and when Lemar Hodges played a ball firmly into the box in the 14th minute, Kemeel Wolfe took it beautifully on the turn with his first touch before slotting it past the advancing keeper with his second.
Things got worse for Donovan Hynes in the Benfica goal eight minutes later when captain Marlon Thomas lazily underhit a back pass, forcing the keeper into a desperate scramble that saw him collide heavily with opposing striker Jahmali Spence and spend the next few minutes on the floor receiving treatment.
It was not until the half hour mark that Benfica really came up with any kind of threat in response to the home side’s pressure, and again Thomas was at fault for not doing better. A pass from Damien Newton found him in the area with the time and space of which a striker dreams, but he placed his shot too centrally and goalkeeper Michard Barrett, yet another recent national call-up, closed him down and saved well with his right foot.
In the 34th minute the champions effectively sealed the win thanks to captain Richard Edwards, appearing perhaps in his last game for the club with a potential move to Houston Dynamo in the MLS seemingly nearing its conclusion.
Edwards picked up the ball outside the area and made an incisive pass to Wolfe before carrying on his run. The scorer of the first goal then turned provider by lifting a perfect cross onto the head of his captain to put home from five yards and notch his first goal of the season in doing so.
After an entertaining first half, the second was more serene with both sides seeming to ease off and in the 62nd minute it was all over. A free-kick was awarded around 25 yards from goal and John-Ross Edwards made Benfica pay for conceding the needless foul, making it 3-0 with a low strike past the wall and in.
Hynes, however, will no doubt have been disappointed with himself at being beaten inside his near post from that distance. In injury time the visitors did finally get on the scoresheet as Garfield Reid tapped in from close range after substitute keeper Devon Haughton parried a close range shot into his path.
In truth though the game had long since petered out and it was the merest of consolations for a visiting side dropping into the bottom two after relegation rivals St George’s secured a shock win at Waterhouse earlier in the evening.
Harbour View — Michard Barrett (Devon Haughton 82nd), Lemar Nelson, Montrose Phinn, Clifton Waugh, Kimorlee Brissett, Richard Edwards, Kemeel Wolfe (Kemar Lawrence 76th), John-Ross Edwards, Romario Campbell, Rafeik Thomas (Lennox Creary 78th), Jahmali Spence.
Subs not used: Nicholas Beckett, Daveion Woodhouse, Robert Williams, Andre Steele
Benfica — Donovan Hynes, Damion Newton, Javaul Stoddart, Damion James, Andrew Dixon, Ian McAnuff, Gregory Tape (Devrowe Moncrieffe 77th), Marlon Thomas (Omar Walters 64th), Everton Marsh (Rushaine Henry 59th), Garfield Reid, Ramaja Martin.
Subs not used: Travis Irons, Delano Rankine, Trace McFarlane, Scofield Ross
Referee: Courtney Campbell
Assistant Referees: Garnet Page, Dwayne Panton
Fourth Official: Carvel Banton