Photo: Portmore United FC celebrate their sixth hold on the Red Stripe Premier League title after defeating Waterhouse FC 4-3 on penalties in the final on Monday night.
Portmore United emerged from the lottery of a penalty shoot-out to end six years without a trophy and beat Waterhouse FC in the Red Stripe Premier League final at the National Stadium on Monday night.
Goalkeeper Kemar Foster was Portmore's spot-kick hero as he made two brilliant saves to deny Kemar Beckford and Carlos Barrett, to cap off a dramatic encounter. Vice captain Tremaine Stewart was spirited as he embraced Barrett after he missed the crucial spot kick that left the gallant Drewsland-based underdogs in agony.
Portmore looked destined to claim the trophy, they were first out the blocks stroking the ball nicely around a lush green park in search of goals. As early as the 3rd minute, after a few crispy passes between Ewan Grandison, Javon East and Jamie Lynch, the ball fell kindly to marks man Ricardo Morris who pulled a pile driver from 20 yards, but his effort was easily handled by the reliable Waterhouse custodian Diego Haughton.
The Waterhouse team was still searching to get a foothold of the contest in early stages. They were relinquished of possession quite too often and easily, giving the high pressing Portmore another chance in the 4th minute with Venton Evans weaved past defender Shawn Lawes to unleash a venomous strike towards goal, but again Haughton was able to take the sting out of it.
Waterhouse were still unable to get over their opponents half much less to get a shot on goal. This was a clear tactic being deployed by the witty Donovan Duckie to sit back, soak up the pressure and hit on the counter despite playing an attacking 4-3-3 formation.
Portmore on the other hand had gone about their business earnestly seeking an early goal but found it difficult to get inside the box much less to get past Haughton. They seemed settled and were pulling the strings through Morris, who was brought down on the edge of the box but the resulting free kick went woefully from by captain Grandison.
A very flat Waterhouse continued to make sloppy passes giving up possession to a threatening Portmore. Despite not offering much in terms of passing they were very physical committing four fouls in 10 minutes. The Wiley Jamie Lynch was brought down on the edge of the box from a silly foul made by Keithy Simpson on the 11th minute but again Portmore's tame free kick was handled easily by the goalkeeper.
What was building up to be a feisty contest shortly became a scrappy boxing match and if it wasn't for the stern presence of FIFA referee Oshane Nation the game could have gotten ugly and players sent off.
In minute 41, a free kick on the edge of the box was well served up from Grandison which caught Haughton off guard and he made a mess of it. The ball was headed back towards goal by Solomon Damono, which forced Lawes to make a brilliant last ditched clearance on the line to keep the scoreline goalless.
The first half was far from magnificent but both teams simply refused to lie down and roll over.
A game of two halves a common term used by coaches, it was definitely a fiery second half unlike the first.
In minute 48, Ricardo Thomas made a darting run inside the box after playing a nice give and go with MacFarlane and then dummied the ball for Stewart who shoot aimlessly wide.
What a difference a half time team talk can make, the game in the second half was a blistering, high intensity, action packed game.
East darted down the left flank and whipped in a teasing cross in the 52nd minute, nicholy Finlayson had to make an acrobatic save to keep the scores tied at 0-0.
In the 54th minute, Thomas who playing in his first finals at the senior level and was having the game of his life, slipped through a sublime pass to Macfarlane who skipped past Solomon, the last defender andgot past the goalkeeper with his low shot but the strike kissed the upright and came back into play. He held his head in his hands while the oooooooo's and the aaaaaaaaa's went wild by the over 10 thousands traveling supporters.
The stadium was buzzing at this point with Waterhouse now look the likely team to get the go ahead goal. In the 57th Beckford left Evans in his dusty path before cutting back the ball to Stewart who again blasted the ball over the top from a promising position.
Coach Donovan Duckie paced the touch line with hands in his sweat pants could not believe his side did not take the lead in the 60th minute. Miller who was fouled by Grandison on the the right hand side of the 18 yard box, got up gingerly and whipped in a ferocious cross to the back post to an unmarked Beckford whose header was destined towards goal only to see his shot miraculously cleared off the line by Damono.
The pendulum swung in Portmore's favor in the 65th minute when Jamie Lynch outfoxed Thomas and broke into the box and should have gone to goal but opted to go for an audacious pass which went harmlessly into touch. The Portmore team backed off and gave Waterhouse far too much space and in the 75th minute Foster arguably pulled off the best save of regular play when Simpson pulled fired a shot from 40 yards which had the keeper scrambling to his right before steering the ball around the upright for a corner kick.
Shavar Thomas, coach of Portmore United, was the braver and he first decided to shuffle his team. He pulled Evans out who was poor in the second half and introduced the skillful Maalique Foster. He however, didn't last long as he was injured and had to be substituted before the 90 minutes. What was the last chance of the second half for Portmore came in the 80th when East who was played through expertly by Morris, but his shot was frantically booted out by Miller after the keeper coughed up the ball.
The extra-time period produced chances for both sides to claim the title as the tension mounted - but it was left to the lottery of penalties to decide the winner.
Portmore clinched the win with successful penalties from Roberto Johnson, Ewan Grandison, Damono Solomon and Jamie Lynch. Waterhouse scored through Allan Ottey, Tramaine Stewart and Cardel Benbow. Kemar Beckford and Carlos Barrettt missed from the spot for Waterhouse.