Photo: Owayne Gordon scored the opener for Montego Bay United against defending champions Arnett Gardens in the first leg semi-final in the Red Stripe Premier League on Monday night. Montego Bay United won the game 2-1 to take a one goal advantage back to Kingston for the second leg on Sunday.
Montego Bay United defeated Arnett Gardens for the first time this season, when they clipped the defending champions of the Red Stripe Premier League 2-1 in their first leg semi-final at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex on Monday night. The hosts lived up to their big game reputation, seeing off the defending champions, to put one leg in the final.
Mobay United had failed to win against their opponents dating back to last season’s RSPL final which was won by Arnett Gardens and so expectations were high from the home fans before kickoff.
The game had a scrappy opening but Arnett almost snatched an early lead when Vishnul Harris crossed from the right for the always alert Kemal Malcolm, but the striker was unable to get his near post header on target in the 9th minute.
Both teams continued to probe but gave the ball away cheaply, especially in midfield. The deadlock was finally broken in the 23rd minute, when the league’s leading scorer Owayne Gordon, fired home from just inside the box following a neat give and go with Cory Hylton. Goalkeeper Peter Harrison could do nothing as the ball flew into the roof of the net. It was Gordon’s second goal in as many games against Arnett Gardens and 20th for the season.
The home team should have doubled their advantage five minutes later but Cory Hylton’s tame effort was cleared off the line by a retreating Keneal Hyde after Harrison had been beaten.
Mobay would rue the missed chance as the champions responded shortly after when Michaelos Martin gleefully accepted a tap in at the far post to level the scores, after his fellow strike partner’s effort fell kindly into his path. Leon Strickland’s cross-cum-shot managed to evade the entire Mobay backline and rolled into the path of the unmarked Martin who could not miss from almost on the goal line.
The teams looked set to go in 1-1 at the break until a gaffe from Harrison allowed Mobay to restore their one goal advantage. The keeper failed to hold on to a routine cross and the ball fell into the path of an alert Ronaldo Rodney who bundled home from three yards in the 43rd minute.
The second half failed to produce much by way of goalmouth action as Mobay resisted the best that Arnett had to offer. The visitors thought they had grabbed an equalizer eight minutes from time when Strickland had the ball in the back of the net, but he was correctly ruled offside by the assistant referee.
Mobay United will be happy to take the advantage back to Kingston but Arnett Gardens will not be overly concerned about overturning a one goal deficit, which effectively sets up the second leg semi-final,which will be played at the Antony Spaulding Sports Complex on Sunday.