Reported by Sports Analyst, Clyde Jureidini
Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Star
Game day #20 of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) preliminary round had Harbour View FC challenging Cavalier FC. Before this game, Harbour View was 4th in the 14-team rankings with 33pts while Cavalier was 4pts ahead in 2nd position. Harbour View needed a win to shrink the gap on the top 3 teams, while Cavalier needed a win to top the table. Coming into this encounter would take a herculean effort for defending champions Harbour View FC to topple 2021 champions Cavalier FC. Harbour View has had a poor record against them recently, not defeating them in the last 6 exchanges all the way back to JPL 2019— 2 losses and 4 draws.
Premier League Clash: Harbour View FC vs Cavalier FC
The light attendance at Jamaica College’s Ashenheim Complex was a small fraction of the live TV audience of the broadcasted game. Cavalier dominated the initial stages with ball possession, intricate passes, explosive attacking runs and close-range shots at goal. They got an early look at goal through Colin Anderson who rushed to a headed pass by Harbour View’s Oshane Staple intended for his goalkeeper inside the area, who narrowly got to it first. The 18 year old goalkeeper, Anthony ‘Deco’ Bennett, put his body on the line more times than necessary in the first stanza to effectively block, deny and thwart the advances. His team responded on the counterattacks through Timar Lewis, Colorado Murray, Demar Rose and Rojay Smith sending some warning signals. Cavalier FC played confidently to call the early shots, led by speedy attackers Colin Anderson and Dwayne Atkinson. It was evident that they had no intention of being pushed aside.
Let the Goals Begin
Midway in the half, a Harbour View counterattack became deadly. The overlapping Oshane Staple whipped a searching low cross from the right side that bypassed the scrambling Cavalier back line to the far post. Demar ‘Quefa’ Rose converted after 23 minutes, Harbour View FC 1 – 0 Cavalier FC. Cavalier stepped up to the challenge to find the equalizer, but had more of their goal attempts muffled inside the area by defenders Romaine Brackenridge, Ryan Wellington, Odorland Harding, Shamari Dyer in tandem with Casseam Priestley. Custodian Bennett was outstanding in goal, making impressive saves throughout the half whenever the Cavalier attackers penetrated that defense.
The 2nd half had hardly started as Cavalier’s industrious Dwayne Atkinson broke loose of his defenders to let off a shot that hit the outstretched arm of Brackenridge. Referee Oshane Nation was obliged to award a penalty in the 47th minute of play. Goalkeeper Bennett dived to save Dwayne Atkinson’s first penalty kick, but it bobbled fortunately back into the kicker’s path to equalize on his 2nd attempt, 1-1. Game on! Eyes lit up and tackles became more frequent as both clubs displayed the desire to win this vital head-to-head clash.
A Cavalier corner kick was headed in goal by Jeovanni Laing some minutes later but was called back by the referee for a foul on goalkeeper Bennett, who fell in the box before the ball made contact. In minute 58, a right-sided corner from left-footed Harbour View substitute Cristojaye Daley was whipped in hard and low to the near post. Fast-paced Oshane Staple got a smashing header on it before anyone reacted to score the eventual winner, Harbour View FC 2 – 1 Cavalier FC. He was later dubbed the ‘Man Of The Match’.
The competitive encounter developed into a tactical game thereafter; Harbour View bossed possession to a fault as Cavalier FC demonstrated signs of frustration. They steadfastly launched a series of long-ball attacks, reminiscent of recent Reggae Boyz tactics against Trinidad, which proved futile. Timar Lewis latched onto a headed-on pass from Colorado Murray and skillfully outwitted goalkeeper Jaedine White to put the ball inside the far post of the goal from a difficult angle, but the referee signaled offside.
Getting Down to the Wire
With 6 games to go, ‘The Stars Of The East’ harbour the ambition to claim back-to-back championship titles. This goal is especially important to the club heading into our 50th anniversary next year, on March 4, 2024. To accomplish that lofty feat we first have to qualify as 1 of the top 6 ranking teams. Ideally the Technical Team would like to finish the preliminary round in the top 2 to draw a bye and automatically qualify for the semi-finals.We currently maintain 4th place, tied on 36 points behind Mount Pleasant who leads by goal difference. Cavalier FC remains on 37pts behind leaders Arnett Gardens FC on 39pts.