Clarendon, St James eye Ben Francis KO berths

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Former champions Clarendon College and St James High can secure at least a place in the Ben Francis Knockout semi-finals today with wins in the quarter-finals of the ISSA/FLOW daCosta Cup schoolboy football competition that continues with a Group One double-header at the St Elizabeth Technical High School Sports Complex.

St James High, the 2008 champions, face two-time winners Garvey Maceo High in the 2:00 pm opening game followed by Clarendon College against Spot Valley High in the 4:00 pm game.

Clarendon College and St James High lead Group One with three points each after wins in Saturday's opening round of matches when Clarendon College beat Garvey Maceo 3-1 in a Clarendon derby, and St James High turned back Spot Valley 2-0 in an all St James encounter.

Wins for the leaders today would set up a winner-take-all clash at Manchester High on Saturday.

A lot will be riding on each game in this round as only the winners of each of the four quarter-final groups will qualify for the semi-finals of the daCosta Cup, FLOW Super Cup and the Ben Francis knockout, while the runners-up will only be eligible for the Knockout competition.

Clarendon College are perfect through 11 games played so far and will have revenge in mind after they were upset by Spot Valley at Juici Field at the same stage last season.

A number of the players who represented Spot Valley last year are still in the team and they will be confident they can repeat their victory and keep their hopes alive of staying in the competition.

Spot Valley are coming off their first loss of the season and were also held goalless for the first time all year and their response today will determine their fate.

The dangerous Courtney Chisholm was held in check by a disciplined St James High attack on Saturday, but while they have gone unbeaten all season, the Clarendon College defence has not been impervious and they would have faced very few players with Chisholm's ability and attacking flair.

Clarendon College will nonetheless start as favourites with the impressive offensive unit led by Nique Daley and Ricardo McIntosh and it could be the Spot Valley defence that will be under pressure.

Daley and McIntosh have combined for seven goals since the end of the first round and that combination is capable of giving headaches to any team left in the competition.

St James High, who were second in Zone A, then cruised past an awestruck Mile Gully in the second round, were in control of their game against Spot Valley on Saturday and their defense that included 14-year-old Prince Christie, protected goalkeeper Aian Miller very well.

Today they face a Garvey Maceo team that has lost twice in their last four games and must produce the goods now if they are to stay in contention.

The St James High attacking force, led by Ewan Barton, soon to be 16-year-old Tyrique Clarke and Cal-Wayne Allen is a handful to contain for 90 minutes. But Garvey Maceo, who have given up five goals in their last four games, must find ways to shut them out.

Jermaine Muirhead and Gavin Roberts are the mainstays of the Garvey Maceo attack and a lot will depend on them today.

— Paul Reid

Today's schedule

GROUP ONE

Clarendon College vs Spot Valley @ STETHS @ 4:00 pm

St James vs Garvey Maceo @ STETHS @ 2:00 pm

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