Mount Pleasant secure first JPL final in club history

In this May 2023 photo, Mount Pleasant’s Trivante Stewart (right) and Dunbeholden’s Chevoy Watkin vie for the ball during a Jamaica Premier League play-off match at Sabina Park. Stewart scored twice in the second-leg semi-final against Arnett Gardens on Sunday, June 4 to help secure Mount Pleasant’s first league final berth. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Mount Pleasant Head Coach Theodore Whitmore says his team showed their character in advancing to their first-ever Jamaica Premier League final over former champions Arnett Gardens in the second-leg semi-final at Sabina Park on Sunday evening.

Mount Pleasant won 3-1 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate with two goals from Trivante Stewart and another from Shande James. Arnett’s lone goal in the game came from DeAndre Cunningham.

Whitmore says his team was in total control of the game.

“We managed the game well,” he said. “The opponents scored on us against the run of play, so I think the team showed character, the team showed guts and got back into the game and went on to win it.”

WHITMORE…the team showed guts and got back into the game and went on to win it (Photo: Observer file)

Whitmore says this control came from familiarity with their opponents, having played them four times this season.

“We sat and looked at their threat and I think we nullified that,” he said. “Even Fabian Reid [who equalised in the first leg last Monday] didn’t get a chance on our goal.”

Whitmore praised his technical staff and club owners Peter and Amanda Gould for the support given to the team which allowed them to get to the final.

Stewart, the man of the match, promised to bring home the title for the fans.

“I feel great to put Mount Pleasant in the final this season, and I will make St Ann people happy and win the league,” he said after the game.

Mount Pleasant had the first real chance of the game only two minutes in. Stewart played a high ball into the Arnett box, but the header to clear only came as far as Kimoni Bailey, lurking on the edge of the area. Bailey drove into the box then played the ball across to Devonte Campbell, but his shot to the far post went over the bar.

DAVIS…they were quicker to the ball, passed the ball better than us tonight, and they won (Photo: Observer file)

Arnett started to grow into the game afterwards and needed only 15 minutes to take the lead. Reid slid in to claim a loose ball and played it into Rushike Kelson. He couldn’t find the space to shoot but laid it off to Cunningham, who was arriving late on the edge of the area. Upon receiving the ball, he took a step into the box and hit such a powerful shot, Mount Pleasant goalkeeper Shaquan Davis’s touch wasn’t enough to keep it out of the net.

That lead lasted roughly 15 minutes, though. Demario Phillips collected the ball just ahead of the half line and went on a drive into the Arnett area. He held onto the ball until he was able to play a flick in behind for Stewart, who latched on well and flicked the ball across the goal to beat Eric Edwards at his far post and make the score 1-1, 3-3 on aggregate in minute 33.

Stewart continued to terrorise the Arnett defence and completed his brace seven minutes later. Bailey, now on the right side, chipped a ball into the box, which Stewart took down on his thigh with ease in spite of being tugged by Gerald Neil. The Mount Pleasant forward then turned and hit a low, powerful shot on the half volley through Edwards’ legs and into the net.

Mount Pleasant should have extended their lead in the 71st minute when Stewart drove into the area and played a low ball across the box to Campbell, arriving unmarked down the left. However, with all the space he needed and all the time in the world to compose himself and fire beyond Edwards, at his mercy, he blazed his shot high over the bar.

Mount Pleasant’s path to the final was locked up in minute 86 when James scored against his former team. A high ball into the final third from a free kick was headed down by substitute Atapharoy Bygrave and into the path of James, who was arriving late on the edge of the area. He hit an early shot through the legs of Cunningham and beyond Edwards, who could probably have done more to keep it out.

However, Edwards was forced into a good save in the 89th minute when Bygrave turned on the edge of the area and fired a powerful shot on goal, which the Arnett keeper tipped over.

Arnett Head Coach Paul Davis conceded Mount Pleasant was the better team.

“They played a better game than us today and they won,” he said. “We didn’t come out today and play. They were quicker to the ball, passed the ball better than us tonight, and they won. We gave them too much time and space to play,” he said.

“To lose at this point, we could have done better. But it was a good run for the team, and we can learn from this and build on it,” Davis added.

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