Reported by Sports Analyst, Clyde Jureidini
The embarrassment of being totally outplayed by ‘Firehouse’ earlier this season had not gone unnoticed. After losing 4-0 at the Stadium East Sports Complex in round 1, ‘The Stars of the East’ strode manfully into the Drewsland Stadium with one thing on their minds― a convincing win. From the first whistle sounded by FIFA Referee Daneon Parchment, Harbour View FC signaled the clear intent ‘we are here to play today’ by stroking the ball around the park.
Captain Ryan Wellington wore a stern gaze as he and his defensive backline― Ajeanie Talbott, Odorland Harding and Romaine Brackenridge― were in a serious mood. Their continuous shouts of direct instructions overshadowed all others. 18-year-old Goalkeeper Anthony ‘Deco’ Bennett was loud, clear and involved, lending an air of safety to the travelling supporters in ear-shot.
Round 2: Harbour View FC vs Waterhouse FC
An array of passing possession set the tone and pace of the game. Waterhouse FC chased and failed to get in touch or dominate early proceedings. Probing possession was eventually transitioned to attacking penetration. The angry partisan Drewsland crowd made their feelings known loud and clear during the Easter Sunday encounter. They may have wondered ‘who is the home team today?’
In one of his few starts of this season, the #10 Cristojay Daley weaved his way past 4 defenders through the right passage to come face-to-face with the advancing national custodian, Kemar Foster. Daley slipped the ball by him in the 19th minute to earn his 3rd goal this season and open the scoring. Harbour View FC 1- 0 Waterhouse FC. The home team then came alive afterwards, tallying counters with precise passing interplay to loudly bring their supporters to life. A string of passes led to corners, free kicks and goal attempts, but not intimidating goalkeeper Bennett.
Harbour View’s Casseam Priestley established himself at the heart of the midfield. He dominated with ball-winning tackles, interceptions, headers, smooth passing and defensive coverage to wrestle back the sway of the game in favour of the visitors. Cristojay Daley became a bigger threat on the left flank, in tandem with the hard-running and bullet-like, right-side crosses from national wingback Oshane Staple. The runs of centreforward Colorado Murray were repeatedly targeted, obviously with intent to end his goal drought.
Of the 2 teams, Waterhouse FC started the second half more purposefully and immediately pushed the Harbour View team into retreat defensively. ‘The Stars of the East’ were locked inside their own half, blocking a barrage of plays while their substitutes started entering the fray. Could HVFC weather the attacking storm as the shouts grew louder from the now-enthusiastic ‘Firehouse Crew’? The Drewsland team was at home now playing on the front-foot, which is what a bulk of the crowd came to see. Harbour View FC was standing their collective ground as Odorland Harding held his own despite numerous probes to win head-to-head challenges with Waterhouse’s Shaquille Bradford. So too did Romaine Brackenridge who slotted into the right-back position, plus Ryan Wellington and Ajeanie Talbott competently handled crosses and squares that came in.
One of the few counter-attacking forays launched by Harding was accurately placed on the chest of fellow wingback Oshane Staple. He then dashed between both Waterhouse central defenders on top of the penalty area as one handled it to concede a penalty in minute 57. Forward Colorado Murray stepped up, faked the goalkeeper, but missed the penalty as the ball flew over the crossbar. Waterhouse breathed a collective sigh of relief after their former ace striker didn’t convert to extend the visiting team’s lead.
His teammates tried to lift his spirits as they exchanged a fist bump outside the penalty area, and in a flash he was at the other end of the field. Just a few minutes later, Demar Rose struck a delightful aerial pass about 25 yards into his path. Murray swiveled the hips, changed pace, dragged the ball around a retreating defender and ‘left him for dead’ as he clipped it across the advancing Kemar Foster. To atone for his missed penalty moments before, the ball bounced into the net to more importantly score his 4th goal this season. Harbour View FC 2 – 0 Waterhouse FC, as the hour mark registered on the game clock.
Harbour View levels the field
After the 2-goal cushion Harbour View retreated defensively as Waterhouse FC pushed forward with distinctly less enthusiasm than before. They failed to make any real impression on goal as the Harbour View defensive unit looked on top of their team game today. A more confident-looking Colorado Murray headed Staple’s vicious cross to the near post but the alert Foster pushed it around the post for a corner. Once more, Murray came knocking as his grounder was sent over the crossbar as the experienced custodian kick-saved the attempt.
Waterhouse FC supporters were unusually quiet; a female fan’s voice supporting the Stars of the East echoed around the stadium ‘Come-On-The-View’. The Harbour View players regained ball possession as the technical team rolled the substitutions a plenty. Cristojay Daley and Demar Rose gave way to Shawn Daley and Trey Bennett, then Garth Stewart and Rojay Smith replaced Romaine Brackenridge and Jashaun Anglin. Shortly before the referee signaled 8 minutes of time to be added, Forward Kemar Mullings later came in for Colorado Murray to close out the game. After the final whistle, Harbour View FC registered as 2-0 winners to hand Waterhouse a loss, regain some pride and get back to winning ways. The defending champions progressed to 39 points in 4th position with a handful of preliminary games left.