Mobay United strike first
Montego Bay United waited when it really mattered to get their first win over defending Red Stripe Premier League champions Arnett Gardens, winning their first-leg semi-final 2-1 inside a lively Montego Bay Sports Complex last night.
This was always going to be an exciting coming together, with the last two title holders meeting in the second city in what has developed into a strong rivalry.
After stripping Montego Bay United of the title last season, Arnett Gardens had enjoyed their clashes with the westerners this season, winning two and drawing the other game heading into last night's semi-final.
However, the home team showed that they were determined to turn the tide this time around - sometimes, perhaps a little bit too much, with a number of unpunished and bone-cracking tackles setting the tone early on.
The hosts drew first blood when marksman Owayne Gordon picked up the ball midway the Arnett Gardens half, dribbled to his left and unleashed a fierce drive, which left second string goalkeeper Peter Harrison diving at air in the 23rd minute.
Harrison, who was keeping watch for the injured Damion Hyatt, was less than convincing all night, and it was his decision to hack the ball wildly to no one in particular with a couple of his teammates calling for a short pass, that led to the Gordon picking up possession in the first place.
Still, the champions never seemed too bothered and were odds on favourites to get on the score sheet themselves, which they did, when Michelous Martin arrived at the back-post to meet a low drive from Leon Strickland and level the scoreline.
However, Harrison's night got worse when - looking more like someone handling a hot potato, he somehow dropped what seemed a routine catch after a looping cross was played in from the right byline, leaving Ronaldo Rodney, who was right on the doorstep, the simple task of turning the ball into the net
Agony for the Jerome Waite-coached 'Junglists', who must now come from behind, when both teams meet again at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex this Sunday at 6 p.m.
Humble Lion will play Portmore United on Monday in their second-leg semi-final at the same venue.