With his teammate tumbling all over him, hard-tackling Montego Bay United central defender, Ladale Richie, gets a crunching tackle in on Portmore United’s Roberto Johnson during the Red Stripe Premier League match at Wespow Park. MBU suffered a stinging 2-1 defeat. Noelita Lawrence photo

Noelita Lawrence

  • MBU grounded

Montego Bay United’s hopes of a place in the playoffs of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) were dashed on Sunday, following defeat to League champions Portmore United in the penultimate round of games on Sunday at Wespow Park.

The two-times champions, who were bidding for a fifth straight appearance in the semi-finals, turned in a lethargic performance, stuttering to a 2-1 defeat to their rivals, who they failed to win against for the entire season.

The beating was a second for the MBU team against the Portmore team, which included western players Ricardo Morris and former Cornwall College youth player, Venton Evans.

Dino Williams, from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute, found the consolation goal for home team with Damono Salmon and Rondee Smith, who found the winner the scorers for Portmore United.

American coach, Tim Hankinson, said “The team failed as they were just not good enough and failed to apply themselves almost always. Again, we failed again to take our chances and that, among other things, cost us the game. We were also flat at the beginning and after falling behind, we lacked the intensity needed to get back into the contest,” he noted.

The visitors had the first crack at goal when their captain, Rosario Harriot’s firm header from a corner kick crashed against the crossbar in just the third minute. Nine minutes later, MBU had their chance to take the lead, but Renaldo Rodney’s shot, after being put in clean in on goal, was dragged across the face of the goal.

With the visitors gaining the ascendancy and looking more composed, Captain Salmon sent them ahead when his powerful header, unchallenged from inside the area, rocketed into the back of the net.

Odane Nish, making his first start in more than a month, then had a chance to equalize for the MBU team but his firm header was well-saved at the near post by an alert Shaven Paul in goal for the Portmore team.

Nish’s second shot from the rebound was sent crashing into the side netting as the travelers went into the break with the slender advantage.

At the resumption, MBU again seemed left behind and despite a slightly improved showing, they failed to penetrate their opponents’ back line, amidst several good build-ups.

Portmore continued to dominate and should have gone further ahead midway the second half through two three-on-one breakaways into the opponents’ penalty area, each time thwarted by bad decision-making and once-good goalkeeping from Zavia Hutchinson.

MBU’S hopes were lifted eight minutes from time when they were awarded a penalty kick for a handled ball in the area.

Williams duly dispatched the 12-yard spot kick with venom, as his fierce shot rocketed into the back of the net.

The goal seemed to lift the home team and with their fans now chanting, they went on the run for the winner. They created the opportunities but failed to make them count, including one from point blank range from Williams.

Williams, unmarked and with time and space inside the penalty area, dragged a shot from about 14 yards out wide of the goal, when the simplest thing was to score, having been served up a teasing cross from substitute Johann Weatherly.

However, Portmore, although far from their best, but looking likely to score with every attack, with the MBU backline looking shaky, delivered the killer blow in the 89th minute when Smith got on the end of the counter-attack to slot home a cross by Ricardo Morris, a former MBU hitman.

The latest defeat dashed the playoff hopes of the Tucker-based MBU team.

Elsewhere, the two other western teams conceded eight goals down the middle and scored just once with Reno and Sandals South Coast going down 4-0 and 4-1 to Cavalier and UWI respectively.