Montego Bay United seal final spot with Waterhouse hammering
The message is loud and clear. Montego Bay United are set on retaining their Red Stripe Premier League title.
It's a message that was sent in no uncertain terms on Sunday as the defending champions stayed on course for a repeat by booking their spot in this year's championship game with an incredible 5-1 win over Kingston-based team Waterhouse.
Waterhouse's players must have felt like they were in a bad dream; better yet, a nightmare, one they have suffered through before.
Just under 12 months ago, they were destroyed 5-2 by Montego Bay in the final of the Red Stripe Premier League. And there was something eerily familiar about the tone of Sunday's return leg semifinal between the two teams as Montego Bay again overpowered their opponents to seal an 8-2 aggregate win.
JAMAICAN PREMIER LEAGUE
- Semifinal first leg: Arnett Gardens 1-1 Humble Lions
- Semifinal first leg: Waterhouse 1-3 Montego Bay United
- Semifinal second leg: Montego Bay United 5-1 Waterhouse
- Semifinal second leg: Humble Lions 2-3 Arnett Gardens
- Final: Montego Bay United vs. Arnett Gardens, June 1
The Montego Bay Sports Complex was packed to the rafters as two of the island's heavyweights again traded blows.
Waterhouse have not been able to ignore the storylines around last year's defeat to their hosts and, despite their own strengths, they arrived in Montego Bay knowing they would need a perfect display and some luck to overturn a 3-1 first leg defeat if they were to defy the odds and make a repeat appearance in the final.
But it barely took half an hour for that hope to fade as a merciless Montego Bay United -- who now seem to be making a habit of embarrassing their rivals on the big stage -- put Waterhouse to the sword, showing silky control and impressive execution in the final third to continue their march to a second straight title.
Allan Ottey's neat finish after 28 minutes and a gift of a header from his strike partner Dino Williams four minutes later gave the hosts even greater control of the tie and turned what was already a tough ask for Waterhouse into a near impossible mission.
Utility man Lesley St Fleur, who had earlier provided the cross for William's goal, got in on the act himself, converting a penalty in the 43rd minute before Waterhouse finally showed some sign of life when Jermaine "Tuffy" Anderson, returning to the city of his birth, found the back of the net on the stroke of half-time.
Any thoughts of a resurgence were quickly dismissed seven minutes into the second half when Williams, like he did last week, made the most of a defensive mix-up -- this time between Waterhouse defender Nicholoy Findlayson and goalkeeper Richard McCallum -- to slot home and extend his team's advantage to 4-1 on the night and 7-2 on aggregate.
Things got from bad to worse for Waterhouse when defender Rohan Amos was sent off by the referee after picking up a second yellow card. Omar Gordon then completed the rout, powering a strike past McCallum in added time to add insult to injury after a well-worked passage of play that sliced through the Waterhouse backline.
Coach Dr. Dean Weatherly echoed the team's motto of "One city, one team" after the game, pointing to the togetherness of his bunch of players and noting that it was never a challenge to motivate them for this contest.
"They believe in what we are doing here," he said. "We are a family at this club, we bond together; we suffer and rejoice together. It wasn't difficult to motivate them."
The triumphant Montego Bay United will leave Jamaica on Monday morning for Trinidad and Tobago where they will play W Connection in the semifinal of the Caribbean Football Union Club Championships on May 22, before the final of the Jamaican Premier League takes place against either Arnett Gardens or Humble Lion on May 25.