ARNETT Gardens advanced to final of the Jamaica Yellow Pages Jackie Bell Knockout final with an exciting and dramatic 3-2 win over Tivoli Gardens at the Edward Seaga Stadium.
In a pulsating game, Arnett Gardens finished with 10 men while Tivoli Gardens were reduced to eight men in front of a packed crowd.
Arnett Gardens will now meet neighbours Boys’ Town in the final set for February 15 at the Harbour View Mini-Stadium.
The towering Newton Sterling netted twice in two minutes sending the visiting Arnett Gardens into a two–goal advantage. Sterling opened the scoring with a beautiful 20 metre shot sailed over the head of goalkeeper Edsel Scott in the 20th minute.
Before Tivoli Gardens knew what hit them, Sterling was at it again, this time heading home from a free kick in the 22nd minute.
But Tivoli Gardens came to life and Romeo Parkes pulled one back in the 37th minute, tapping home after goalkeeper Damion Hyatt failed to hold onto a low shot from Mario Swaby.
With the score at 2-1 in Arnett’s favour, referee Kevin Thomas became a busy man as both teams fought for supremacy. Thomas firstly dismissed Tivoli Gardens’ coach Glendon Bailey from the team bench for his apparent verbal abuse on the resumption of the second half.
Arnett’s young striker Fabian Reid soon followed Bailey, picking up his second yellow in the 52nd minute. Two minute later, Tivoli Gardens’ Raymond Williamson picked up his second yellow for a cynical foul way out on the touchline nearer to the half line and was dismissed in the 54th minute.
With 10-men each, the home team drew levelled courtesy of a Navion Boyd penalty in the 56th making it 2-2.
With the momentum in Tivoli’s favour, Arnett Garden struck a decisive blow in the 65th minute after Rohan Reid skipped past the last defender and curled a beautiful low left footer off the upright making it 3-2.
Tivoli Gardens would then be reduced to nine men after Christopher Jackson saw red for apparently striking a player and Ranike Anderson also received a straight red in time added on in the 94th minute.
That was the last action of an exciting encounter which turned ugly as referee Thomas was surrounded by several protesting Tivoli Gardens players, venting their anger at his refereeing.
Goalkeeper Edsel Scott had to be forcefully restrained as he hit the ball out of the hands of the referee who was departing the field of play.