Photo: Oh how sweet it is! Portmore United players celebrate together after Saneekie Burton scored his second goal against defending Red Stripe Premier League champions Arnett Gardens at the Spanish Town Prison Oval on Sunday. Portmore won the game 5-1 to inflict the first defeat on the champions for the season.
Portmore thump Arnett 5-1 to end defending champs unbeaten streak
The unbeaten streak of defending Red Stripe Premier League champions Arnett Gardens came to a halt at 19 when they were thumped 5-1 by Portmore United at the Spanish Town Prison Oval on Sunday. A brace from Saneekie Burton and goals from Ricardo Morris, Javon East and an own goal from Oniel Thompson ensured that last season's losing finalists finally exacted revenge for the 2-0 loss in the championship game. Fabian Reid got the consolation for the champions with his 11th goal of the season.
Fans were still taking their seats inside the stadium when Burton broke the deadlock with just over a minute on the clock. The winger sped down the left flank to get unto the end of a pass before firing across the face of goal and into the back of the net beyond a hapless Damion Hyatt for 1-0. Arnett Gardens captain Oniel Thompson tried to block the shot but was unable to stop the ball from going in.
Damari Deacon had a glorious chance to draw his team level midway the half, but was denied by a decisive Shaven Paul who advanced to block the shot as the striker was about to pull the trigger. A minute later Portmore were 2-0 up when Thompson turned in a Sue-Lae McCalla right-sided cross into his own net in the 23rd minute.
Five minutes later, the league's top marksman Javon East should have made it 3-0 but somehow missed the target after doing all the hard work. The striker trapped the ball on his chest before slipping by a defender and with only Hyatt to beat watched as his shot slipped the wrong side of the right upright.
Fabian Reid who had been a closely marked man all game, finally got a sight of goal for Arnett Gardens with just over half hour played but his effort skewed wide of the target.
Asani Ricketts showed great concentration to head a Deacon shot off the line after the ball fell kindly to the Arnett Gardens player following a corner kick, thus maintaining the home team's 2-0 advantage.
Roshane Sharpe found himself one on one with Hyatt three minutes before the interval after being sprung free by Ricardo Morris, but his shot went agonizingly wide of the left upright, sparing the blushes of the visitors.
But Morris would do what his teammate failed to do just one minute later as the Arnett Gardens defence was caught out yet again. The Portmore stand-in captain broke into the Arnett Gardens half and showed good composure to slide the ball pass the advancing Hyatt and into an empty net to put his team 3-0 up at the half time break.
The next goal was always going to be very significant in the game between the two top teams in the league and it went the way of the home team when Burton got his second of the contest. The diminutive player was in the right place to fire home at the back post as a pass destined for him was partially blocked by a defender and looped up into the air. The former Jamaica College player met the ball flush with his instep and thumped home to make it 4-0, just seven minutes after the restart.
Arnett were finally off the mark when their talisman, Fabian Reid, showed great composure to control the ball inside the box before sliding his shot between the legs of the advancing Paul to make it 4-1 in the 56th minute.
Not wanting to let the visitors back into the game, Portmore began to manage the contest and took the steam out of what was a fast paced encounter.
Tamar Edwards came close to getting a second for Arnett late on when he beat Paul to a corner, but his header went just over the crossbar.
Inevitably, the league's top marksman, Javon East, got his name on the score sheet for Portmore when he ran unto a ball played over the top and took his time before forcing the ball pass Hyatt to close out the scoring at 5-1. The goal saw East taking his tally to 12 in an intense race for the Golden Boot.
It was a resounding win for Portmore who were maaking a huge statement to the rest of the league, with almost two-thirds of the season played.
Portmire coach Shavar Thomas, said he had identified the achilles heel of the champions and asked his players to exploit it.
"We wanted to put them on the back foot coming here. We notice that Arnett don't travel well and that is something that we wanted to use to our advantage."
The former Reggae Boy is not getting carried away however, despite the massive margin of victory.
"We will build on it (the victory), we have a lot of games coming up. Arnett Gardens are the defending champions, they have the trophy to lose, but we didn't need validation to say that we are this good a team because we see it every day in practise."
For Jerome Waite, it was the many mistakes that his team made that caused them to see their win streak snapped.
"Today it wasn't so much Portmore in terms of performance, it narrows down to the amount of errors that the Arnett Gardens team made, but what was good about the Portmore team is the fact that they capitalized on those errors."
Waite also hinted at selfishness among his players, being a factor in the loss.
"We still have a lot of work to do, players need to understand what is at hand as it relates to the way going forward. When we analyze the offensive effort players (were) thinking about themselves instead of thinking about the collective. In the first half we created chances as well, at least the first half should have ended 3-2 because we got two clear chances. But away from that, give the Portmore team credit for capitalizing on their chances."
Portmore are now seven points clear at the top of the tables on 44 points and will soon be turning their attention to the Caribbean Club championships at the end of the month. For Arnett Gardens, who also have the club championships to focus on in the coming weeks, the time is right to make the necessary adjustments as they have failed to register a win in their last five games.