On a cold and rainy day, the collective spirits of the die-hard HVFC loyalists were mightily lifted with a composed come-from-behind win over the fifth-placed Portmore United.
Having lost on our home ground to the perennial premiership campaigners 1-2 in the first round who displayed their ‘showboating style’ on our youngsters with disdain, the coaching staff and players would not forgive nor forget that Ranique Muir’s late effort was not enough to grab a point then, and they would need more, much more, this time around. We came to play, and play we did.
Since then, there has been an addition of 11 new players, including an international cadre of HVFC players born and developed inside the community club and a glittering array of talented young future stars. These, mixed with the established leadership of the heart and soul of Captain Nicholas ‘Josh’ Beckett and the classy John-Ross Edwards, among others, made a positive impact.
The technical, tactical and motivated displays were pleasing to the fair-sized crowd who traveled to witness the game that should have been a re-launch for the popular Red Stripe Monday Night LIVE games scheduled for tonight at 8pm; What a missed opportunity.
The first quarter of the game was electric as the wet surface added drama, skills and a lot of excitement to the attack-oriented plays. Both teams clearly came to win, the spectators were in for a treat.
The first look at goal at 3 minutes in, a floated chip to the back post by Evan Taylor found returning resident professional, Sean Fraser, who headed onto the crossbar to bounce over.
An array of early dubious refereeing decisions threatened to railroad a good game, but both disciplined camps quickly went past that and settled into football exchanges. A glaring no-penalty call resulted in a 14th minute left-sided corner, which was converted into a direct goal from Tremaine Stewart. Now 1-0 in Portmore United’s favour, in their eyes justice seemed to have been done.
Sean would return for another chance at goal in minute 17 to equalize as the midfield turnover and counter-attack left Captain/goalkeeper Kemar Foster stranded. The playing field was now level at 1-1.
Not long after, spectators warmed to the intense competition. Portmore United found a splendid goal from the strong left foot of attacker Cleon Pryce who sliced an 18-yard shot past the outstretched palms of Ghanian-born goalkeeper, Christian Kluvi, and into the far corner to run away in celebration of a well-executed strike. Now 1-2 to Portmore in minute 23, game on.
Much intrigue ensued for the remainder of the half but no further goals were scored. Patrons rushed to the hot soup vendor to warm up in the halftime break and return to their posts in the anticipation of a dramatic second half; They were not to be disappointed.
HVFC took a patient possession approach and marched steadily with superiority over all areas of the pitch before inflicting 2 deep wounds into the heart of the usually-solid defensive network of Portmore United. Sean Fraser completed a brace in minute 75 to equalize once again from close in.
Portmore United boasted of the recent acquisition of one of our finest young players in striker, Jermie Lynch, who joined their ranks to make a triumphant return to the Compound. Their vocal supporters poured scorn on us upon his entry in the 78th minute as a substitute to shouts of “dub them 5 or 6”.
However, the high quality match on the pitch bore absolutely no resemblance to the odd remarks in the stands as both multiple-time championship teams showed maximum respect for each other.
With the time ticking, the stage was set for a hero to arise, and so he did. The moment came in the 83rd minute when Akeem ‘Boogie’ Priestley reminded all that he is back, with a bang. Picking up the ball in deep midfield, he gently weaved his way into the right side of the field and launched a scud-like missile from about 31 yards that crashed onto the upheld hand of the bewildered goalkeeper, Captain Foster. It lobbed over his head and across the line as he seemed shocked, embarrassed even, while stuck in the muddy underfoot conditions. As the HVFC players chased after Priestley, he ran to adoring fans and family at the fence in wild celebration. Game, set and match!
HVFC 3 – 2 Portmore United.