Photo: Omar Edwards coach of second place Tivoli Gardens FC will welcome Anthony Patrick and his Marverley/Hughenden FC team to the Edward Seaga Sports Complex on Sunday for their Red Stripe Premier League encounter. Second place Tivoli will welcome a resurgent Marveley team that is 7th place in the league and is unbeaten in four games under Patrick.
THE FESTIVE SEASON DONE AND DUSTED
The well needed festive season break was well appreciated by players of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL). While some teams were busy frolicking, others were busy sharpening up for the resumption of the league on January 8, 2017. The top six teams after 17 rounds of matches are defending champions Montego Bay United on 35 points, Tivoil Gardens 32 points, UWI FC 32 points, Humble Lion 31 points, Portmore United 29 points and Arnett Gardens 22 points.
It will be a 'dog eat dog' situation as the remaining six teams battle to force their way into the top six or to avoid relegation. The top two teams after the last round will enter into the semi final round, while the other four teams in the top six will vie for the other two semi-final slots in the quarter-final playoffs.
One team hoping to break into the top six is Marverley/Hughenden who currently sits 2 points behind sixth place Arnett Gardens on 20 points. In an effort to do so, they have acquired the services of former Waterhouse FC and Bridgeport High Manning Cup champion coach, Anthony Patrick. He has so far racked up 7 points from a possible 12 in his 4 games in charge to close the calendar year.
Patrick has since dipped into the transfer market in order to beef up his squad. The much traveled striker, Claudius Backburn has made the trek from Boys Town and has been on fire, scoring 6 goals from 3 practice games. Blackburn told Yardiesports.com, " I felt like a misfit at Boys Town, hence I struggled to score goals. I love it there, excellent coaching staff, but the goals weren't coming and that was because of the system they play. I am willing to give my all at Marverley and so far I like it here".
Along with Blackburn former Waterhouse FC striker Andre Leslie and the full back Oshane Roberts made the journey from "across the road". Jason Watson and brothers Denardo and Ricardo Thomas were also recruited to bolster the midfield.
HOW THEY MATCH UP
On Sunday the first televised game for 2017 will see Tivoli Gardens host the resurgent Marverley/Hughenden at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex and spectators can expect high intensity and possibly a few goals. Tivoli Gardens' Coach Omar Edwards has found the winning formula and has the West Kingston team firing off all cylinders.
Tivoli is in second position on goals difference and 12 points ahead of their opponents. Former national player Jermaine 'Teddy' Johnson has so far scored 8 goals and has his eyes set on taking the trophy back to West Kingston, while leaving his options open for a call-up back to the national set up. He is getting good support from Elton Thompson on 6 goals.
Tivoli Gardens a surprise guest at the party thus far, are entertaining the masses with their consistent play with crispy tika taka one touch Barcelona-style football under the tutelage of Omar Edwards. They boast a record of 10 wins, 2 draws, 5 losses and they have scored 27 goals. All the players are back in training and fired up for their next assignment. While Tivoli Gardens are yet to dip in the January transfer market, they have their eyes set on some possible targets.
Edwards opposite number, Anthony Patrick, will be looking to continue the unbeaten run since taking over at Marverley. While their stats are not as handsome as Tivoli's stats the coach reminded his troops that it is work in progress and they need to work harder.
Marverley is predominantly a second half team, having scored 13 of their 18 goals in the second period of the games. Philip Peddie and former Tivoli Gardens men Ridico Wellington and Nicholas Scott all on 4 goals apiece need to keep their scoring boots laced up to give their team a fighting chance at the title. If they are to walk away with anything from this game, they will have to defend well throughout the 90 minutes especially in the first 45 minutes as Tivoli Gardens have scored 15 of their 27 goals during that period.
With a record of 4 wins, 8 draws, 5 losses they need to improve at the back by plugging the holes in defence. They have conceded 19 goals so far, but with a full strength backline coach Patrick has more than enough to choose from.
Both teams are coming off wins in their last fixture to conclude 2016 with Marverley sneaking past title contenders Arnett Gardens 1-0 on the road and Tivoil Gardens drubbing former champions Harbour View 4-0 on the road as well.
The last encounter between both teams ended in a pulsating 1-1 draw at the Edward Seaga Complex with Kevin Shaw and Andrew Peddler getting a goal apiece. This match up is billed as a cracker between two feisty teams, so if they manage to keep all their players on the pitch the fans will be in for a treat.