Photo: Ajuran Brown rides the tackle of Deno Schaffe during the Red Stripe Premier League game between the UWI FC and Jamalco FC atthe UWI Bowl on Sunday. UWI won the game 1-0 to go top of the league.
The University of the West Indies FC took sole leadership of the Red Stripe Premier League when they clipped Jamalco FC 1-0 at the UWI Bowl on Sunday, courtesy of a first half strike from Anthony Greenland.
The Mona based UWI had fallen twice to the Clarendon based Jamalco this season and was determined to get the “monkey off their back” this time around.
The visitors who started on the front foot, dictated play for the first five minutes of the contest without really testing Amal Knight in the UWI goal, but Greenland got the first chance of the contest on minute seven. He benefitted from a knock down inside the box, but the striker who had the whole goal to aim at, dragged that ball wide of the target.
A near post free kick from Keammar Daley should have been dealt with better by Davion Garrison who failed to direct his header on target.
Ajuran Brown drove down the right flank and avoided a tackle before crossing to the penalty spot to pick out an unmarked Kenroy Thomas who headed over the crossbar while unchallenged, highlighting the challenges of Jamalco in front of goal.
Jamalco would rue the missed chance when Greenland struck six minutes before the interval. A good team move by UWI saw Daley release Jerondy Henry down the left flank and a pinpoint cross from the winger found Girvon Brown at the near post. The big striker thought he had scored but was denied by the catlike reflexes of Levor Williams who did well to deny the UWI. But the keeper looked on hopelessly as Greenland reacted quickest to power home the rebound from close range.
Kemoy Atkinson had a chance to help his team double their advantage just moments later, but was denied by Williams while trying to squeeze the ball in at the near post.
Both teams still had time to miss good opportunities that should have resulted in goals.
First, Andrew Isaacs missed another chance to draw Jamalco level, when he slipped inside the six yard box and went face to face with Knight, before UWI went straight down the other end and spurned another chance to go 2-nil up when Brown was denied by some smart goal keeping by Williams.
Deno Schaffe was the last to miss in the half when he met a pullback from Henry on the half volley, but he snatched at the ball and skied his effort.
The second half saw both teams spurn a number of goal scoring opportunities, with the visitors being particularly guilty.
Jamalco captain Shauntel Mundel almost leveled for his team shortly after the restart when his neatly struck free kick was tipped around the post by an alert Knight, before Daley responded for UWI with a whipped free kick to the near post that Williams did well to push over the crossbar.
The visitors had a glorious chance to level when Schaffe was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the area and Jamalco was awarded a penalty kick. Knight is developing a reputation as a great penalty stopper and he guessed correctly, diving to his right to deny Mundel. It was the third save from 12 yards by the UWI custodian this season.
Both teams continued to hunt goals, Jamalco for the equalizer and UWI for the cushion of a second goal but it was not until late in the game that UWI created two more good chances.
Substitute Patrick Brown was wasteful, shooting wide of the left upright after Garrison had laid the ball on a platter for him inside the area, before the usually reliable Andrae Bernal also missed a sitter, going for a cheeky chip over Williams instead of a solid drive, only to see the ball crash into the side netting instead of the back of the net.
“It was a very important win…to preserve our spot at the top of the table,” said a grateful Andrew Peart, assistant coach of the UWI.
“We know that results are what will count from here on, the performance is important as well and we didn’t have that good performance today but I think we will settle for having the maximum result,” admitted Peart.
A distraught Jamalco head coach Rayon Johnson was at pains to explain the poor performance of his team in front of goal.
“Today’s performance was one of the poorest in front of goal. All the games we have played we have created chances but today, I don’t know. It was so obvious that we lack scoring. We even got a penalty and didn’t score it so it shows that we have a problem with scoring.
“Right now it’s a case of all of us trying to stick together. The games are there for us to win but it is a matter of us to be confident and go out there and take it.”
The UWI now have 46 points from 24 games, one more than Humble Lion FC who defeated Reno FC 2-0 at Effortville to leapfrog the two inactive teams, Montego Bay United and Tivoli Gardens into second place on 45 points.
Jamalco slipped into the relegation zone after the other promoted team Marverley/Hughenden picked up a crucial point when they held Portmore United to a scoreless draw to come level on 23 points, Marverley has a better goal difference.