It is often said that it is not how you start, but how you finish that counts. Waterhouse, by virtue of their current vein of form in the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League, has embodied that saying.

In fact, to say that the Drewsland-based team is rising to the occasion when it matters most would be an understatement, as they recovered from an inconsistent run in the preliminary stage, where they placed sixth, and are now in the semi-final.

Waterhouse confirmed their spot in the final four on Monday after they downed Tivoli Gardens 2-0 in second leg quarterfinal action, for a 3-1 aggregate scoreline, at Sabina Park.

Javane Bryan (14th) and Andre Fletcher (45+6) were on target for Waterhouse, who has booked a semi-final date with reigning champions Mount Pleasant FA. First leg action is scheduled for Sunday at the same venue.

With his side taking a seven-match unbeaten run into that contest, Waterhouse’s assistant coach Damion Gordon is confident, but aware that they will be up against a Mount Pleasant team with great attributes, quality and real individual talent. Waterhouse last made a deep run in the league in the truncated 2021 season, when they lost the final to Cavalier in a penalty shootout.

“I think our chances of winning are just like any other team before the game is played. So, we just have to prepare as best as we can for Mount Pleasant, which is a very difficult team, but again, at this stage of the tournament, you just have to bring your A game and come Sunday I think the better team will win,” Gordon said.

Reflecting on the performance, he lauded the team for character and fight shown on the day.

“We are grateful, we always take a hungry step towards everything and tonight (Monday) we did that. I think we started very well; I still think that we had some more chances that we should have capitalised on, but we are grateful for the win nonetheless. Hats off to Tivoli, I think they really pressed us, and I think they forced us in terms of testing our defensive shape and fortitude which came to the fore,” Gordon noted.

The contest started in a sombre manner, as Tivoli Gardens lost young starlet Nickalia Fuller with what appeared to be a broken right leg, after he went into a tough challenge with Waterhouse’s Shamarie Dallas. The physical and psychological impact of that challenge later took effect on Dallas, who wept openly as he also left the field soon after.

Still, Waterhouse maintained their composure, and later found the lead when Bryan fired home his 16th goal of the season from close range, after sloppy play by Tivoli Gardens captain Odean Pennycooke allowed Revaldo Mitchell through on goal to get off the initial effort that was blocked.

Tivoli Gardens came into their own and tried to play their game, but were unable to make their half chances count, as Alton Lewis fired wide from inside the 18-yard box, in the 28th minute.

Nine minutes later, substitute Lennox Russell, who entered the contest for Fuller, had Tivoli’s best chance of the half, as his well-struck right-footer from an angle, was kept out by Kemar Foster at his near post.

Waterhouse regained their attacking fire at the backend of the half, and found a second in time added, when Leonardo Jibbison’s cross found an unmarked Fletcher, who made no mistakes with a well-taken left-footed finish for his 12th of the season, which put the two-time champions 2-0 up at the break.

Needing a goal to stay in the contest, Tivoli Gardens went straight to work on the resumption and almost pulled one back a minute in, but Russell’s strike was again kept out by Foster.

Waterhouse went close to a third in the 63rd minute, but Denardo Thomas’s powerfully struck effort from inside the 18-yrd box, just went over the crossbar.

From there, it was all Tivoli Gardens, as the West Kingston team launched a series of marauding attacks in a sustained spell of pressure, but they found Waterhouse defence in a defiant mood, as they braved the incursion.

Besides Waterhouse’s resolute defending, Tivoli Gardens were left down by a lack of composure in the final third at times, as Justin Dunn hit the upright in the 70th minute, while Rodico Wellington’s freekick in the 85th minute was again blocked by Foster.

Tivoli Gardens Head coach Jerome Waite cursed his team’s luck on the day, but in the same breath, expressed delight with how the season went.

“The youngster’s leg is broken, which is really sad, and I am not one to bash referees, but we all saw what happened. Besides that, we created chances throughout the second half, but faulty execution resulted in us not scoring, and we also have to give Waterhouse’s goalkeeper credit as well,” he said.

“In the end, Tivoli Gardens had an extremely outstanding season. This is not something that anybody looked forward to, so I have to give the guys credit,” Waite added.

It is as you were between Tivoli Gardens and Waterhouse heading into the second-leg of their Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League quarter-final encounter, as they played out a 1-1 stalemate in first-leg action at Sabina Park on Monday.

Javane Bryan, with his 15th goal of the season, gave Waterhouse the lead from a 44th-minute penalty, but substitute Lennox Russell replied for Tivoli Gardens in the 74th to ensure both teams remain level ahead of next Monday's decisive contest, at the same venue.

Waterhouse's Head coach Marcel 'Fuzzy' Gayle was the happier of the two tacticians, having lost twice to Tivoli Gardens in the preliminary phase of the season.

"We are grateful that we are still in it, so kudos to my team, I think we played well. We had an objective today and I think we met it the only disappointment is that we didn't keep a clean sheet because of that mistake and with our senior players on the park we should have done better in that moment.  So, we still can perform better and so we are going to put in the work for the next leg and go out there and play again," Gayle said in a post-match interview.

"Tivoli is a quality team, they finished third which is a testament to their strength so we expected a close game, it did come down to fine margins and we know set plays can make a difference. So, it's something we have in our arsenal as we move forward," he added.

It was a tentative start by both teams in the early exchanges as they moved the ball well but didn't really offer much in the attacking third at that point. In fact, it wasn't until in the 24th minute that Tivoli Gardens started to look more threatening in open play and even got the ball in the back of the net, only for it to be called back for a foul on Waterhouse's custodian Kemar Foster.

Prior to that, the West Kingston team orchestrated a good build up play, which saw Anthony Nelson's header coming back off the crossbar, after he deflected Horatio Morgan's intended shot from an angle goalwards.

At the other end, Nickoy Christian went close for Waterhouse with a 38th-minute freekick that was punched clear by Diego Haughton in goal for Tivoli Gardens. 

The deadlock was eventually broken six minutes later when Bryan picked himself up and converted from the 12-yard spot, after he was felled by Nathan Thomas in the danger area, to put Waterhouse 1-0 up at the break. 

Tivoli Gardens were more purposeful on the resumption, as the substitutions injected some tempo into their attacking thrust and they bossed possession and forced Waterhouse into a defensive posture. They again threatened in the 57th when Justin Dunn’s cross found Morgan, whose effort was charged down by a defender.

However, they were back on level terms minutes later as substitute Rodico Wellington executed a cheeky freekick that eluded Waterhouse's custodian Foster, and another substitute Russell was well positioned to finish the rebound.

From there, Tivoli Gardens went for the winner and should have had it in the 81st minute. This, as Nickalia Fuller's weighted cross found Wellington in space for a free header, but the once clinical player steered his effort wide of the target.

Tivoli's Jerome Waite was pleased with his team's response after a lukewarm first half.

"Put it this way, the first half we didn't play, and these players have to understand that attitude don't win game you have to come out and play. It was a different second half thanks to the substitutes, but we still have 90 more minutes to play so we just have to go back analyse what we need to do better and come out and do what we have to, to win the game," Waite shared.

There is very little that Tivoli Gardens can do wrong these days, and their 1-0 win over Harbour View in the marquee Monday night Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League (WNJPL) fixture was another testament to that.

Though it wasn't their most polished performance, good fortune, which has complemented their vein of form throughout the season, was at the fore of their latest victory at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex.

Anthony Nelson's solitary seventh-minute strike, which was basically a gift from Harbour View's goalkeeper Romario Palma, saw the West Kingston team back into second position on 48 points, five behind leaders and reigning champions Mount Pleasant Academy on 53 points. 

The top two teams have already confirmed their playoff berth, along with Cavalier (48 points), Portmore United (45 points) and Arnett Gardens (45 points), while Waterhouse (37 points), Montego Bay United (37 points) and Dunbeholden FC (34 points), are in a tussle for the sixth and final spot. Harbour View remain 12th on 22 points. 

While acknowledging that the performance could have been better, Tivoli Gardens's Head coach Jerome Waite felt his team did well enough to come out tops in a tough encounter.

"It's a part of the game and it is how we trained we played today (Monday). If you noticed, it's not always to go out there and score three, four or five goals, sometimes if you get one, it's all about managing the game from there...team management, time management and players’ management, so I think we did well. This is what we look forward to as it boils down to the business end of the season," Waite said.

It was a lively start to what was expected to be a close contest by both teams, with Harbour View showing first in the early exchanges, when Jashaun Anglin's third-minute freekick was tipped over by Diego Haughton in goal for Tivoli Gardens.

Tivoli Gardens broke the deadlock shortly after, as Palma under no pressure, gifted possession to Nelson, and the player sporting the number 11 jersey gleefully accepted and converted a well-taken chip shot from just outside the 18-yard box.

They should have doubled the lead three minutes later, but Barrington Pryce couldn't keep his effort down after meeting Alton Lewis's weighted freekick.

Both teams continued to give as good as they got on the attacking front, and Anglin again went close to Harbour View in the 43rd but was denied by another good save by Haughton.