Photo: Arnett Gardens midfielder Renae LLoyd protects the ball from Humble Lion midfielder Wolry Wolfe during their Red Stripe Premier League semifinal at Effortville Community Centre on Sunday. Arnett won the game 1-0 and the tie 3-1 on aggregate.
Fabian Reid held his hand up once again for Arnett Gardens as his man of the match performance helped secure a 1-0 win over Humble Lion at Effortville on Sunday. Arnett entered the tie needing only a draw to advance, but Reid hit the back of the net in the 72nd minute as Arnett ran out 3-1 aggregate winners to march into their second final in three years in the Red Stripe Premier League.
After rain interruption a week ago, where the game had to been called because of a soggy field and a heavy downpour, the game continued from the 10 minute mark and in much better playing conditions.
Arnett looked the more purposeful team despite playing away with Renae Lloyd and Marvin Morgan having their way in midfield.
A chance did fall the way of Francois Swaby for Humble Lion but the tall striker dragged his effort wide of the far post.
Lennox Russell, who partnered Reid up front for Arnett Gardens, was guilty of blazing high on at least two occasions when a bit more composure was required in a goalless first half.
Humble Lion looked like a team with more intent in the second half and Rafe Wolfe dragged an effort wide shortly after the restart.
Omarley Francis had to be at his best when Swaby headed a Wolry Wolfe corner kick on target, the big keeper tipped the ball over the crossbar and avoided certain danger.
Ricardo Dennis got the better of Oneil Thompson down the left side but he was unbalanced by the time he got a shot off and it was an easy save for Francis in the end.
Moments later the home fans were left holding their heads and hearts as both they and their goalkeeper Kaden Davis, stood and watched as a shot from Russell crashed against the crossbar and rebounded into play.
Russell again came close as Morgan shook his marker before delivering a beautiful cross into the box from the right side. Russell met it sweetly on the volley but Davis produced a fantastic save to keep Arnett at bay.
There was no denying Reid however, when he got his first clear sight on target. An unusual mistake from the reliable captain Ricardo Campbell, let in the slippery striker who drifted right before firing across the advancing Davis and into the corner of the net to make it 1-0, with less than a quarter of the game left to play.
Humble Lion had a glorious opportunity to get back into the game immediately after but Swaby missed from twelve yards when his penalty smashed against the upright.
As if to add insult to injury, Rafe Wolfe then missed from six yards, sweeping the ball over the top with the empty goal gaping, after Francis had missed his punch from a high ball into the box.
Swaby would get one last look, deep into stoppage time but he shot straight at Francis who held on smartly to ensure his team kept a clean sheet.
Jerome Waite explained just how his team approached the second leg semi-final.
“We didn’t approach the game in an overconfident manner, we approached it in a more defensive manner because we already had the lead and it was our duty to secure what we have and hit them on the counter, which is what we did.”
A disappointed Donovan Duckie was left to rue missed chances.
“I thought we started the game flat. In the first half we were overburdened by the occasion. We kept on playing direct, we played into their hands. We played direct to their sweeper, it didn’t work for us and half time we spoke about it.
“We influenced the game, we changed the game (in the second half), Arnett was on the back foot but when our skipper made that error, it made it more difficult for us. Then it’s a game of moments. We got our opportunity from the penalty. Had we scored, it could have been different. We didn’t score, we still got another opportunity on the six yard box, Rafe Wolfe kicked over the crossbar. In the end we have to say kudos to Arnett Gardens, they know how to win this format.”
It is the third season in a row that Humble Lion are failing at this stage of the competition and the second time to Arnett Gardens.
Arnett now await the winners of the other semifinal which is being contested by the UWI FC and Portmore United. UWI leads 2-1 on aggregate from the first leg and will host the former champions at the UWI Bowl on Sunday starting at 3:00pm.