By Nodley Wright, Freelance Writer
THE UNBEATEN run of Portmore United in the second round of the Wray and Nephew National Premier League is expected to continue today when they play away to Arlington at Prison Oval.
Since the elevation of former national player Paul Young to coach, Portmore have gone on a six-game winning streak which they should stretch to seven with a comfortable win over Geoffrey Maxwell-coached Arlington.
At Frome, second-placed Waterhouse, who are also playing away, should keep in step behind Portmore with a win over Reno who are just above the relegation zone. Reno captain and goalkeeper Aaron Lawrence was impressive for his team last week in their 1-0 win over Constant Spring in the Red Stripe Champions Cup Knockout competition. Reno will need similar brilliance from him - and more - to keep out Waterhouse.
The Invaders/Arnett Gardens game at the Elliston Wakeland Centre will be nothing but a mismatch. Cassman Williams' charges are overachievers but a favourable result for them against Arnett Gardens would be a stretch. They have good attacking players in Delroy Ellis and Ricardo Geddess but they will need a lot more if they are to challenge Arnett Gardens who boast players such as Kevin Wilson, Kwame Richardson, Keith Kelly, Jonathan Williams and Julian McLeish.
The retooled Wadadah will today get a chance to see if their reinforcements can keep them in the NPL for next season. Since the opening of the transfer window they have brought in Kirk Hendricks, Daniel Ricketts, Mark Williams and Lacon Brissett - all from Village United. Constant Spring on the other hand have added the inspirational Walter Boyd and Dino Williams to their offensive force and how they perform could influence the outcome of the game.
If Harbour View were the team of the first round, they are the disappointment of the second round. In seven games they have managed just one win, lost four and drawn two. Personnel is not a problem for them as they have some of the best young players in the country. There is also national midfielder Jermaine Hue and national striker Fabian Taylor. Apart from Garfield Reid, Village are not a team of stars. What they lack in terms of quality they make up with hard work. If Harbour View do not lift their game today they could find themselves falling to another defeat.
Of all the games on show though the one that will attract most interest from 'neutral' football lovers is the Tivoli Gardens/Village United clash at the Edward Seaga Stadium. The Village United team that will take the field today is one that will bear very little resemblance to the one that took to the field in the first round and the early part of the second. Gone from this team are the likes of Preston Bernard, Hendricks, Ricketts, Damion Williams, who is back at Seba, Brissett and Ian McAnuff who will be turning out for Tivoli Gardens as well as Jeff Pearce who will soon be wearing the colours of Waterhouse. Seasoned players Shane Crawford and Fabian Dawkins are away in the United States playing in that country's A League.
"It is kind of a new-look team. The attitude has been different. What people will see is not the Village team that people had become accustomed to. What we are doing is developing a team," Village coach Dr Dean Weatherly told The Gleaner yesterday. He added that in the short term, people will not be satisfied as generally they do not like changes but as soon as they start bearing fruit then the perception will be different.
While there have been a number of departures, among those who are still around are Gregory Simpson, Devington Russell and Nicardo Ffolkes in defence and Teofore Bennett in attack with new arrival Omar Allen and Damion Adamson. The midfield should be a new one with the likes of Cornwall College schoolboy Jevaughn Russell, Nigel Ellis and Marlon Dixon.
Tivoli Gardens, on the other hand, rebounded from their mini-slump and with Christopher Nicholas back in goalscoring form along with national representative Roland Dean, the Village defence could be in for a rough day. Lenworth Hyde Jnr., Steve Green and maybe new boy McAnuff could add to their troubles.
The steady Kasai Hinds, Victor Thompson and Christopher Jackson should keep the defence tight. Favourites should be the home team but Village could surprise.
SECOND ROUND STANDINGS
Reno vs Waterhouse at Frome (3:30 p.m.)
Arlington vs Portmore at Prison Oval (3:30 p.m.)
Invaders vs Arnett Gardens at Elliston Wakeland (3:30 p.m.)
Wadadah vs Constant Spring at Jarrett Park (3:30 p.m.)
Tivoli vs Village at Edward Seaga Stadium (3:30 p.m.)
Harbour View vs Rivoli at (7:00 p.m.)