Battle lines will be drawn today when Harbour View FC and fellow former champions Waterhouse FC vie for first-leg advantage in the 2017-18 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) play-off match at Harbour View Stadium.
Kick-off is scheduled for 8:35 pm.
The winners of the two-legged tie will advance to the semi-finals where Portmore United and reigning champions Arnett Gardens, the respective number one and two teams, are lying wait.
Portmore United were by far and away the best team throughout the bulk of the season, amassing 66 points from 33 games to be crowned league champions, while Arnett Gardens (51 points) did just enough to finish second.
Both Harbour View and Waterhouse — after enduring hugely disappointing spells during the season — were outstanding in the latter stages of the RSPL preliminary phase, raking in the points needed to finish in top-six play-off spots. Third-placed Tivoli Gardens FC (50 points) and sixth-placed Cavalier SC (48 points) claimed the other spots.
Waterhouse, coached by Donavan Duckie, ended the preliminaries in fourth place with 50 points, while the Ricardo Gardner-conditioned Harbour View were a place behind with 49 points.
Waterhouse, since losing 1-2 to Portmore on December 13 last year, have been defeated only twice over an 18-game span. That run included nine victories for the club that lifted premier league titles in the 1997-98 and 2005-06 seasons.
Harbour View, premier league winners in 1999-2000, 2006-07, 2009-10 and 2012-13, have also been resurgent in recent months, winning nine of 13 games since losing 0-2 to Tivoli Gardens FC on January 7.
There is also little to separate the teams in terms of head-to-head battles this season. Both have recorded a win, while the other clash ended in a draw.
Their first meeting was a nil-all stalemate at Harbour View back on October 22 last year. Their next encounter was at Drewsland Stadium on December 24 with the hosts pulling off a 1-0 win.
But Harbour View had revenge when they battled to a 3-1 win at Drewsland on February 11.
Whatever this evening’s outcome, the backdrop suggests a tantalising encounter between two of the country’s top clubs, and supporters could be in for a blinder.
Source: The Jamaica Observer