Cavalier and Waterhouse football club secured the early advantage after coming away 1-0 winners over Tivoli Gardens and Mount Pleasant Football Academy, respectively, in first-leg, semi-final action in the Saturday.
Played at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Center of Excellence in hot condition, Cavalier eked out a late 1-0 win, in the first game of the double header, before Waterhouse did likewise to Mount Pleasant in the second game.
Substitute Colin Anderson popped up with the all-important goal for Cavalier with five minutes left in regulation time, while Shaquille Bradford netter for Waterhouse in the 79th minute to give the top two teams from the preliminary phase the early advantage.
The second leg is slated for Wednesday at the same venue, with the winners on aggregate setting a date for the final.
There was not much between the teams in the first game as neither Cavalier nor Tivoli Gardens was prepared to risk opening up themselves to a counterattack.
But as the game appeared heading for a 0-0 stalemate, when Anderson was played in by Nickache Murray and speedy striker rounded the advancing goalkeeper Kewong Watkins before slotting into the unguarded goal.
But to make matters worse, Watkins was given his marching orders after was completed, apparently for dissent, and will miss the crucial return leg.
In the second game, Bradford scored the all-important goal in the 79th minute as his low left-footer squirmed under goalkeeper Shaven Paul and trickled into the net.
With the second leg set for Wednesday, Waterhouse must be fancying themselves of reaching their third-consecutive final of the Jamaica Premier League. They lost the 2018 and 2019 finals to Portmore United and of course with no competition in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Waterhouse are well on their way to booking yet another final appearance.
It is a slender advantage between two evenly matched teams and the stage is set for an epic battle in the second leg. Both teams got chances to score and Mount Pleasant would have left this encounter less satisfied having got what seems like the better chances.
Mount Pleasant’s head coach Wally Downes was clearly not happy based on his facial expressions. “I think we had the majority of the possession and we had chances to score and if you don’t take your chances the game will become difficult,” said the Englishman.
“We had a fantastic chance after about an hour and that would have turned the complexity of the game completely. We relaxed towards the end but you could have seen the fighting spirit in us in the last 10 minutes after they scored,” he pointed out. “We were the better side and if we had put the chances away it would have been a better story. We have one game left to win a football match so we are confident we can do it,” Downes noted.
Meanwhile Waterhouse’s assistant coach Damion Gordon was certainly not in agreement with Downes as to which team was the better team on the day. “If he thinks so, yes. But the result speaks for itself. It was a very close game and I would have agreed if he said that,” said Gordon. “We have another leg and the next leg speaks for itself,” he continued.