Arnett, Mount Pleasant in fierce 2-2 draw
Arnett Gardens and Mount Pleasant should last night's action be an indication can expect an intense conclusion to their semi-final series after finishing 2-2 in their Jamaica Premier League (JPL) first leg at Sabina Park.
Leonardo Rankin opened the scoring for Mount Pleasant in the 18th minute before Shai Smith equalised with a header in the 30th minute. Trivante Stewart restored Mount Pleasant's advantage in the 63rd minute, a lead that lasted only three minutes as Arnett's captain Fabian Reid scored from close range to restore parity.
The battle was an end-to-end affair with both teams showing their attacking strengths that entertained the crowd, which mostly favoured the 'Junglists'.
Arnett Gardens, the regular season champions, have been idle for three weeks after automatic qualification to the semis. While their attack looked pedestrian in the early goings, it roared into life after they conceded.
Head coach Paul Davis said that the three-week break was used wisely, as they were still in training but felt last night they could have put themselves in a better situation had their final third execution been better.
"When you reach this stage, you take the chances with two good teams playing. It was a tug-of-war game. We were getting chances, they were getting chances, but had we taken all of our chances, it might have been a different game," Davis said.
Davis had expected an intense game given the quality that Mount Pleasant possessed but was pleased with the fighting spirit shown by his players.
"Mount Pleasant have a lot of experienced players, so you are going to see that, but one of the greatest things is that my team is playing from the heart. They want the cup this year, and we are going to go all out," Davis said.
Mount Pleasant head coach Theodore Whitmore said the momentum Arnett gained after equalising put them in a difficult position, which they wanted to avoid.
"This is a team (Arnett) who have been at this stage before, so the support of the fans would have been key. We wanted to take the fans out of the game because once you are behind and the fans are behind Arnett, it is always going to be difficult," Whitmore said.
Whitmore was coy when asked about potential changes in strategy for Sunday's return leg but expects the match to be as fiercely contested as last night.
"It should be interesting. It should be entertaining as you saw," Whitmore said.
Meanwhile, Cavalier edged reigning champions Harbour View 1-0 in their first-leg semi-final played earlier, thanks to an Orlando Russell strike in the 49th minute.