Fabian Reid and Chevany Willis both scored twice, as Arnett Gardens produced one of, if not, their most dominant display of the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League (WNJPL) season in a 5-1 win over Humble Lion at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Monday.

After a lukewarm win over Lime Hall Academy last week, Head coach Xavier Gilbert requested more from his team, particularly in the attacking third with the intent of making their South St Andrew base a fortress heading into the business end of the season. The "Junglists" responded with aplomb, as they were rampant from start to finish in extending their unbeaten run across five games.

Though they had to come from behind after Afiba Chambers gave Humble Lion a ninth-minute lead, Arnett Gardens were comfortable in the end as Willis scored a header and a delightful freekick in the 39th and 84th, while Reid's double in the 69th and 75th were also well taken, with Jaheim Thomas (59th) in on the act of the five-star performance that gave the moderate crowd much to cheer about.

Despite not getting on the score sheet, Rushike Kelson was also among the highlights of Arnett Gardens' classy execution, as he proved menacing to their Clarendon-based opponents’ backline with timely runs coupled with a consistent show of nippy footwork on the right channel.

"It was good. I thought we played well, but disappointed that we conceded a goal from another set piece, and we have to defend better. But nevertheless, we rose to the occasion, and I think we dominated possession and created quite a number of opportunities in both halves, so it was a deserved win for the gentlemen tonight (Monday).

"I thought he [Kelson] and Jaheim were good, especially in the first half and it’s unfortunate that Rushike didn't score. But Willis was a deserved man of the match with first half equaliser and that wonderful freekick at the end. So, we were a lot better offensively and it showed with the number of goals we scored," Gilbert said in a post-match interview. 

With the win, Arnett Gardens provisionally moved up to third on 45 points, same as second-placed Portmore United and Cavalier, with goal difference separating the three. Cavalier who started the Matchweek in second, slipped to fourth after their 0-1 loss to Portmore United in the curtain-raiser at the venue. 

Reigning champions Mount Pleasant (49 points), with Tivoli Gardens (42 points) and Dunbeholden FC (34 points), occupying the other playoff positions.

Given the close nature of business in the top half of the standings, Gilbert is well aware of the quality that their rivals possess but backs his team to remain competitive going forward.

“Our chance is as good as everybody it’s going to be tough, we know it’s not going to be easy, so we just have to maximise on our potential and the opportunities that we create, as well as tighten up on areas that needs strengthening. So that is what we are going to focus on in the next couple of weeks leading up to the playoffs,” Gilbert noted.

It was a frantic start to the contest for Arnett Gardens, who signalled intentions in the sixth minute, when Thomas rifled a right-footed effort into the upright. But it was Humble Lion that broke the deadlock three minutes later when Chambers applied an acrobatic finish to an Andrew Vanzie corner.

Instead of riding the momentum from the goal, Humble Lion were forced on the defensive as Arnett Gardens applied consistent pressure through Reid and Kelson, who tested Hasani Barnes on a few occasions, but the Humble Lion custodian proved equal to the task.

The “Junglists” thought they were back on level terms in the 32nd when Kelson again showed nippy footwork to dismiss two defenders, but his intended shot caught the arm of Reid on its way in and the goal was disallowed by referee Oshane Nation.

However, they inevitably pulled one seven minutes later when Willis rose highest to head home a weighted cross from Joel Jones. They should have gone to the break in front, but Thomas’s stinging right-footer from deep inside the 18-yard box, was tipped unto the crossbar by Barnes, who ensured the score remained 1-1 at the break.

Still, Arnett Gardens were in no mood to relent, as they maintained their momentum on the resumption with Thomas getting another effort from the top of the 18-yard box on target, but Barnes again did well to parry.

Given the marauding nature in which Arnett Gardens were attacking, it was only a matter of time before they found lead, which they eventually did when Kelson provided a pass for 20-year-old Thomas to fire past Barnes.

Kelson went close a few minutes later, but his effort was kept out by Barnes. From there, it was time for the Reid show, as the veteran striker went on a break and fired past the advancing Barnes in the 69th, and later registered his ninth goal of the season when he sidewined his way past a defender to create space for a thumping finish to put Arnett Gardens 4-0 up at that point.

The fact that he opened the scoring for Arnett Gardens, it was only fitting that Willis capped the win, and he did so in dazzling fashion when he drove one of his trademark free kicks from just over 30 yards out past Barnes, who was beaten all ends up.

Linval Wilson, who took the reins from Vassell Reynolds at Humble Lion felt the team’s loss was a result of poor defending.

“When you make those mistakes playing Arnett Gardens at home you are going to get punished and that’s what happens. When you look at the goals, they were just some simple errors in crucial areas, so when you’re playing against a class team this is what happens, we just lapsed in concentration,” Wilson said.

Results

Portmore United 1, Cavalier 0

Arnett Gardens 5, Humble Lion 1

Jamaica’s local-based players and United States-born goalkeeper Jayden Hibbert will have the opportunity to impress Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson and possibly break into the final squad for the upcoming Concacaf Nations League (CNL) semi-final assignment against United States on March 21.

This, as the 22 Jamaica Premier League (JPL) players and Hibbert, who was recently signed by Atlanta United 2, makes up Hallgrimsson’s 23-player squad down to contest a two-match friendly series against Caribbean neighbours Trinidad and Tobago on Friday and Sunday, in the twin island republic.

The games which are scheduled to be played at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, and the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima, are both set to be contested at 3:00pm Jamaica time.

Hibbert, 19, who was signed through the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season, will become an Atlanta United First Team player effective next year, but until then, he will be hoping to secure a place in Hallgrimsson’s side for not only the CNL game, but also for the Copa America and World Cup qualifiers later this year.

The number 19 overall pick in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft played two years at the University of Connecticut, where he started in all 14 games for the Huskies in 2023. The sophomore made 41 saves and picked up three clean sheets. He collected a season-high fives saves in three matches last season while earning Big East Goalkeeper of the Week honours twice. Prior to joining UConn, Hibbert won a state and national title at St. Benedict’s Prep.

Meanwhile, along with assisting Hallgrimsson decide on which local-based players to include in the final Reggae Boyz squad for the CNL semi-final engagement, both games will also assist Angus Eve and his Soca Warriors in gauging their readiness for the upcoming Copa America qualifying encounter against Canada, scheduled for March 23.

This two-match friendly series is basically a return leg of sorts following Trinidad and Tobago’s visit to Jamaica for two games last year. The Soca Warriors won the second friendly in Montego Bay 1-0, after the first match ended goalless.

The two teams later met at the Concacaf Gold Cup in June where Jamaica came away comfortable 4-1 winners in the Gold Cup group stage meeting.

Squad: Kemar Foster (Waterhouse FC), Shaquan Davis (Mount Pleasant Academy), Jayden Hibbert (Atlanta United), Kyle Ming (Cavalier FC), Richard King (Cavalier FC), Garth Stewart (Harbour View FC), Ricardo Thomas (Dunbeholden FC), Sue-Lae McCalla (Mount Pleasant Academy), Stephen Young (Portmore United), Joel Cunningham (Arnett Gardens FC), Emelio Rousseau (Portmore United), Alex Marshall (Portmore United), Shamour Smith (Montego Bay United), Jahshaun Anglin (Harbour View FC), Romeo Guthrie (Mount Pleasant Academy), Jamone Shepherd (Arnett Gardens FC), Kaheim Dixon (Arnett Gardens FC), Fabian Reid (Arnett Gardens FC), Shaniel Thomas (Cavalier FC), Jason Wright (Moylnes United), Justin Dunn (Tivoli Gardens FC), Andre Fletcher (Waterhouse FC), Devante Campbell (Mount Pleasant Academy)

Striker Fabian Reid recently crowned himself in glory when he became the Arnett Gardens player to score 80 goals in the Wray & Nephew Jamaica Premier League. Reid notched his 80th goal with a superb strike that helped lift Arnett Gardens to a 1-0 lead over fierce rivals Tivoli Gardens in the West Kingston derby.

However, Tivoli would respond by scoring three goals to win the match and dull the lustre of Reid’s milestone. Despite the final result, Reid was happy to have experienced that historic moment.

“It’s a feeling I can’t even find words to explain,” he remarked. “But one thing I can say is, I give God thanks. It’s not an easy task to do but I do everything in my power at all times to be that forward I was called to be. It’s a great joy for me!”

Reid began playing in the league for Arnett Gardens as a 20-year-old after he transferred from his junior club Boys Town and has spent the last 12 years playing in a number of positions in midfield before settling in the striker position where he has flourished.

 “I never dreamt of scoring so many goals but I’m just a natural goal scorer,” he said. “Every time I go out on the pitch, I want to go out there and deliver for my team to win. I felt very excited when I scored to go to 80 goals.”

Nicknamed “Muller” after the great German striker Thomas Muller, Reid says that his next target in the league is to get to 100 goals with Arnett Gardens, the only team that he has played for in the premiership despite many attempts by a number of other local clubs to lure him away.

“My heart is at Arnett Gardens from I was little was a boy until now. A lot of teams have made offers for me, but I don’t take it,” he revealed.

Reid has played for three clubs overseas, including, San Juan Tablet in Trinidad and Tobago in 2014/2015, FC Dlia Gori in Europe 2018/2019 and Neroca in India in 2023 from where he recently returned to Arnett Gardens.

His form in the premier league which has seen him score six goals in as many games since he returned in January and has earned a recall to the Reggae Boyz training camp by Head Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.

In seven previous appearances for the Reggae Boyz, Reid has netted on three occasions.

 

Tivoli Gardens, for the second time this season, downed neighbours Arnett Gardens 3-1, but the manner in which they did it on this occasion would certainly have sent a message to their other rivals in the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League (WNJPL).

Not only did Tivoli Gardens have to come from behind in the marquee Monday night encounter at the Stadium East Field, but they did so at a numerical disadvantage in tough underfoot conditions caused by evening showers.

The West Kingston team was spurred by a brace from former Arnett Gardens winger Steve Clarke (76th and 80th), and a long overdue strike from the league's joint leading scorer Justin Dunn (73rd), after they lost substitute Howard Morris to a straight red card in the 61st. Fabian Reid had earlier put Arnett Gardens in front in the 57th minute.

With the win, which extended their unbeaten run across four matches, Tivoli's Gardens inched up to fourth on 34 points, while Arnett Gardens, who had their three-match unbeaten run snapped, slipped to fourth on 33 points.

Winning coach Jerome Waite welcomed Clarke's impact on his return to the league.

"Despite the fact that we weren't prepared where the proper footing is concerned, the result ended in our favour. I spoke about the players who came in through the transfer market and today you saw what those players basically have to offer," Waite said, adding that losing Morris didn't affect their game plan much.

"The only change was that we had a three-pronged attack, and we asked one of those players to sit in the midfield. These players, the worked that they put in leading up to this game, showed here and it can only can better as the season progresses," he noted.

Arnett Gardens dominated proceedings for most of the first half and had a few openings from which they should have opened the scoring but failed to make them count. After Warner Brown skied a left-footed effort from deep inside the 18-yard box, Keheim Dixon, had a clear 12th-minute opportunity in a one-on-one situation with Tivoli Gardens goalkeeper Diego Haughton, but fired his effort into the crossbar.

With very little going Tivoli Gardens way, Dunn tried his luck from a distance, but Asher Hutchinson in goal for Arnett Gardens, got down well to his right to parry.

Reid also had a grand opportunity to break the deadlock in the 27th minute when he went on a break and dismissed Haughton, who strayed off his line, but the Arnett Gardens captain was undone by the conditions, as the score remained goalless at the break.

However, Reid made amends for his earlier slip up and sent the ‘Junglists’ in front 12 minutes into the resumption, as he got on the end of a Jamone Shepherd pass and fired past Haughton, who again strayed off his line and was caught in no man's land.

Along with the lead, Arnett Gardens also had a numerical advantage when Morris was sent for an early shower by referee Oshane Nation, but seemingly got complacent, and were punished for it. This, as Tivoli Gardens went rampant in the final 20 minutes of the contest and were assisted by some shoddy defending by their opponents.

The West Kingston team’s fortunes turned when a well-struck 71st-minute freekick by substitute Vishinul Harris, was kept out parried by Hutchinson and Shepherd senselessly felled Alton Lewis inside the danger area.

Dunn, who endured a lengthy goal drought after his blistering start to the season, stepped up and converted from the 12-yard spot to pull Tivoli Gardens level with his 10th goal of the season.

From there, it was the Steve Clarke show, as the former Arnett Gardens man doubled the lead three minutes later when he got on the end of Harris’s delightful through-pass and fired past Hutchinson on a second attempt.

Clarke then completed his brace and the victory for Tivoli Gardens when he finished a right-footer with aplomb, after Arnett Gardens failed to clear their lines from Shaquille Jones’s cross.

Arnett Gardens' Head coach Xavier Gilbert believed they were undone by a lack of proper game management. 

"I think we made some poor decisions around the back, but credit to Tivoli Gardens for the way they came at us because I think we managed the game poorly and we have to be smarter than that. We were a goal up and a man up and I just don't think we made good decisions, so it's just unfortunate and we just have move on...bounce back quickly and a move on," Gilbert said.

Matchweek 17 Results

Lime Hall Academy 1, Treasure Beach FC 0

Montego Bay United 2, Vere United 0

Portmore United 1, Dunbeholden 1

Mount Pleasant FA 1, Molynes United 1

Waterhouse 0, Cavalier FC 1

Humble Lion 2, Harbour View 4

Tivoli Gardens 3, Arnett Gardens 1

Cavalier Football Club’s Head coach Rudolph Speid says his team has no intentions of resting on their laurels, after edging reigning champions Harbour View 1-0, in the first leg of their Jamaica Premier League (JPL) semi-final tie at Sabina Park on Monday.

Orlando Russell’s second goal against Harbour View and third overall this season, proved the all-important strike that handed Speid’s youthful team the advantage ahead of Sunday’s return-leg at the same venue.

“What we tried to do was not to concede any goals and take what we got and that is what happened. But I think we need one or two more goals to be safe and so we will be pushing for that in the next game,” Speid said.

After playing out a goalless first half where both teams had their moments, Cavalier found the go-ahead goal seven minutes after the interval through a well-worked build up orchestrated by Nickache Murray.

Murray floated a delicate pass over the top, which was headed across by Jerome McCleary for Orlando Russell to apply the finishing touch at the far post.

Harbour View came close to pulling level in the 62nd minute, but Cristojaye Daley’s well-struck left-footed drive from a distance, was equally well-saved by Vino Barclett, diving full-stretch to his right, in goal for Cavalier.

Cavalier could have extended their lead in the latter stages when the league’s leading scorer Collin Anderson got away from Harbour View’s defenders but fired a right-footed effort straight at goalkeeper Romario Palma, despite having enough space and time to set and shoot.

For Harbour View’s Head coach Ludlow Bernard, its back to the training pitch to assess their mistakes and make the necessary adjustments for the second leg.

“We ran out of ideas up top and so we paid the price for it. We didn’t capitalize on what was probably a tired Cavalier team, but we have some things that we clearly need to look because we are now under one-nil, so we just have to reset and come again,” Bernard stated.

Meanwhile, the second semi-final between Arnett Gardens and Mount Pleasant remain evenly poised, as they played out an entertaining 2-2 stalemate in a game that ensured the large crowd did not leave disappointed.

The inform Leonardo Rankin (17th) and Trivante Stewart (63rd), got the goals for the St Ann-based Mount Pleasant, who went in front twice, but Shai Smith (30th) and Fabian Reid (66th), ensured Arnett Gardens, remained in contention.

It was mostly end-to-end action from the start, but it was Mount Pleasant that drew first blood when Rankin deflected Demario Phillips’s weighted corner kick past Eric Edwards in goal for Arnett Gardens.

However, the “Junglists” were back on level terms 13 minutes later when Ajuma Johnson’s weighted cross found the head of the rangy Smith, who made no mistakes in guiding past Shaquan Davis.

As the score remained unchanged at the break, both teams against came out firing on the resumption, throwing their weight in attack, but again, it was Mount Pleasant that found the go-ahead goal three minutes past the hour mark.  

Stewart outsprinted two defenders before squeezing a right-footer past the advancing Edwards to register his 16th goal this season.

But the celebrations were short-lived, as Reid also registered his 16th goal of the season when he utilized a cheeky first touch to create space for a right-footed drive that had Davis well beaten.

Both teams continued to create chances and could have secured the advantage, but for a lack of composure in the final third.

Still, both Paul “Tegat” Davis of Arnett Gardens and his counterpart Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore, agreed that it was a fair result, as it is anybody’s game come Sunday.

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