Photo: Patrick Brown came off the bench to score the winner for the University of the West Indies FC as they came from behind to defeat Portmore United 2-1 in the first leg of their Red Stripe Premier League semifinal at the Wembley Centre of Excellence on Sunday. The teams will meet in the second leg at the UWI Bowl next Sunday.
The University of the West Indies FC scored a come from behind 2-1 win over last season’s beaten finalist Portmore United FC, in the first leg of the Red Stripe Premier League semifinal at the Wembley Centre of Excellence on Sunday. They now take the advantage into the return leg at the UWI Bowl in a week’s time.
The UWI who had not played a game in three weeks, were down a goal after only five minutes when Ricardo Morris scored for the home team. Girvon Brown leveled in the 23rd minute for the visitors before substitute Patrick Brown scored the 69th minute winner to stun the five time champions.
Just like they did a week when they ended the dreams of Tivoli Gardens, Portmore United scored after only five minutes. A build-up down the left flank ended in a cross from Henrico Ricketts to an unmarked Morris inside the box and the striker flashed a powerful left footed shot beyond the despairing dive of Amal Knight to put the Linval Dixon coached team ahead.
It seemed that it would be an easy Sunday afternoon stroll for the Clarendon based team, but that was before the veteran Keammar “Dada” Daley started exerting his influence on the proceedings. With UWI enjoying more possession of the ball, Jerondy Henry sprang Ramoun Reid down the right flank and the midfielder crossed into the box to an unmarked Girvon Brown who headed home from eight yards to level the score.
Ten minutes before the break the UWI should have taken the lead when a perfectly weighted pass from Daley picked out Brown in the right channel. The goal scorer picked out his strike partner Davion Garrison who was left alone inside the box, but the usually deadly Garrison skied his effort from eight yards.
Three minutes later it was the turn of Portmore to miss a guilt edge chance when Javon East who was picked out at the back post by Michael Binns, headed over the top from inside the six yard box.
Then in the first minute of stoppage time UWI muffed yet another opportunity. Awarded an indirect freekick inside the box by referee Odette Hamilton after Ryan Wellington was adjudged to have made a back pass to Shaven-Sean Paul, Daley was unable to beat the massive Portmore wall and the danger was averted for the home team.
Two minutes after the restart both East and Pryce missed an opportunity to score from the same cross by Morris. Showing the most attacking intent of the Portmore players, Morris broke away down the right flank before putting in a teasing cross that both of his teammates could only manage to get faint touches to, as the ball whizzed across the face of goal.
Moments later Reid also missed what was a difficult chance for UWI when his shot with the outside of the boot, went over the crossbar while under pressure from two Portmore players.
The Portmore fans were left wondering how their team were still level after a three on one break was squandered by their players.
Substitute Maalique Foster released Ewan Grandison down the right side before sprinting to get unto the end of the cross from his captain, but instead of shooting past Knight into the empty goal he played it back to Morris whose weak effort trickled pass the left upright and into touch.
Patrick Brown was introduced shortly after and just three minutes after being on the pitch, the big striker made his presence felt. Driving across the box away from two Portmore defenders, Brown swiftly changed directions and fired off a left footed strike that flew into the bottom corner of the net, to put the Marcel Gayle coached team ahead for the first time in the match.
Portmore substitute, Stephen Williams also had a chance to put his name in lights but he was not as lucky. After skipping the challenge of Jamie Robinson, he then rounded the advancing Knight only to see his shot cleared away by Taniel McKenzie.
McKenzie who had been a rock for UWI all game almost gifted his opponents a goal just before fulltime. He gave the ball away to Foster but chased down the striker and got off a tackle just in time and with the help of his goalkeeper Knight, was able to avert the danger.
On the stroke of full time, Grandison came very close when his free kick from wide on the left went about an inch over the crossbar.
When referee Odette Hamilton brought the game to an end after six minutes of stoppage time, it signaled another historic moment for the UWI FC as they were recording their first ever semifinal win in the Red Stripe Premier League.
UWI head coach Marcel Gayle, was pleased with the win but mindful that the tie was not over.
“Credit to the guys, it was a team effort today. They had a team meeting last night and this is the result of that meeting. We went behind and we make no excuses. We wanted to be careful in the first 25 mins and we got back a goal in the 23rd minute and it changed our luck from there.
“We still have some more work to do, we are still at about 60% so we have to work mentally and tactically to get back to where we want to be.”
Portmore United head coach Linval Dixon believes that advancing to the final is still within the reach of his team.
“One of the things we keep working on in training is that when we score we don’t give up a goal and today we gave up another goal again. In the end, it haunt us by losing the game 2-1, but we still have a second leg to play. We should have scored the chances we created but at the end of the day that is how football goes. They capitalized and took their opportunities. We have to get ready for the second leg.”
The second leg semifinal will be played next Sunday at the UWI Bowl where the home team enjoyed a massive 4-1 victory when they met in the regular season.