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Close shave!

Coach Smith happy Dunbeholden escape RSPL drop

Saturday, March 23, 2019

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They only just managed to avoid relegation, but first-time Premier League team Dunbeholden FC will be back with the big boys when the league gets going again in early September.

After a punishing first four months in the league, the St Catherine-based club finally scraped and scratched their way from rock bottom in 12th place to the safety of 10th spot on the last day of the preliminary season.

The Riegel Smith-coached team began their final game of the season against champions Portmore United knowing they only needed to avoid being routed, while hoping that Waterhouse FC put up a good showing against Montego Bay United, who were one place below them in 11th and in with only a mathematical chance of going through, based on goal difference.

At the end of the 90 minutes they had lost 0-2 to Portmore, but with Mobay United also losing to Waterhouse, Dunbeholden were safe.

Smith says the key to their survival was the quality of play they were able to maintain throughout the season, and learning from the important lessons taught to them in the first two rounds of the competition.

“We escaped the relegation battle by playing good football. Our third round is the best round that we produced,” he outlined, and the evidence is there to support his assertion.

At the end of the first round Dunbeholden managed to gather just seven points, but did much better in the second round to capture 12 points. Their third-round total of 14 points from 11 games was twice as many as their first-and return-round tally.

It was a case of lessons learned for the newbies, after the punishment meted out to them from September to December by the more experienced clubs.

“The Premier League is a learning process. I thought we learned a lot from the first two rounds and the mistakes that we made in the first two rounds, we eliminated those mistakes in the third round. Hence, a better performance and we are able to qualify for the next premier league season,” he said.

Smith will not be resting on his laurels ahead of the start of next season. While the top six teams prepare for the knockout stages of the competition, he and the other administrators at the club will be busy with their plans for next season.

“The structure of our programme, we will definitely look at that in terms of the plan that we have for the team. For this season we did not introduce certain things and we definitely want to produce those things for the upcoming season. In terms of the overall preparation of the players, we definitely will have to organise something different for them,” notes Smith.

He went on to explain some of the first-season shortcomings that will be addressed going forward.

“For general preparation this season we didn't get to put in any form of strength training, so we are definitely looking at that avenue...also we will be looking at our nutrition programme. We will be looking at some other technical aspects of the team itself as well.”

While open to the prospects of bolstering the squad with new players in the off season, it appears that there won't be a rush for a mass importation of players at the club.

“There is always room for players, but we are somewhat confident in the players that we have; but there is no problem with adding to what we have,” stated Smith.

There was obvious pride in the voice of the coach for the achievements of the club, after they survived the drop in their first-ever season in top flight football.

“It was an okay season in that we finished above the exit zone and it has been a long time since two teams that got promoted stayed in the league for the next season — and we did that against the odds.

“Some persons would say that how a team of our calibre work out financially, and we did all of that against all the adversity and all the strains that are within the Premier League,” Smith ended.

— Dwayne Richards

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