JC with advantage as others jockey for semi-final places

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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Defending champions Jamaica College (JC) could become the first semi-finalist of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/FLOW Manning Cup competition as Kingston College (KC), Calabar High and Bridgeport High jockey for better positions in Group H, while it's all squared in Group G as St George's College, St Catherine High, St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) and Holy Trinity High all sit on a point each.

JC, who lead Group H with three points, entertain Calabar High on one point at 1:00 pm at Constant Spring, and KC, also on a point, tackle the pointless Bridgeport High at 3:00 pm at the Spanish Town Prison Oval. St Catherine tackle St George's College at the Prison Oval at 1:00 pm, and Holy Trinity play STATHS at Constant Spring at 3:00 pm.

In Group H, JC have already established a lead by beating Bridgeport High 2-0 on Saturday, while Kingston College and Calabar ended 1-1. JC will look to extend their advantage in the group and book a spot in the semi-final with a win over Calabar. The boys from Red Hills Road gave KC a run for their money at the weekend, showing that they are no pushovers. JC could be in for a bruising time in the early kick-off and will certainly be more tested than they were against Bridgeport.

KC did not have the start to the quarter-finals they expected and, having drawn with Calabar, they must now win against Bridgeport to improve their chances of securing a place in the semi-finals. For Bridgeport, nothing less than a win will do. They will need six points from their remaining two games to make the semi-finals and so will have to attack KC. That may be a recipe for disaster against the competition's leading scorers, but they have little choice but to do so. KC will again start favourites, but are less likely to expect a win than they did four days ago.

After identical 1-1 draws on match day one in Group G, all four schools will be looking to take the advantage with a win on match day two. STATHS came from behind to draw with St Catherine High on Saturday and St George's College did likewise against the number one seed Holy Trinity in the late game.

However, the 'Saint-like' friendly scores cannot continue, and something has to give, sooner or later. Two schools will advance from the four-team group to the Manning Cup semi-final and the ISSA/FLOW Super Cup quarter-final round as well, so grabbing the advantage will be on top of the list of all the teams today.

St Catherine High will battle St George's College for the third time this season, having split the regular season encounters with a win each. They will meet for the first time on neutral ground, but with the game being played at the Spanish Town Prison Oval it will be more like a home game for St Catherine High. The game is set for 1:00 pm, which means that conditions may well play a part in the outcome of the game. Neither team can afford to lose today and a draw would be a less than ideal result.

St Catherine's coach Anthony Patrick believes his boys can upstage the more-fancied 'Light Blues' team from North Street.

“I know it is going to be a very interesting game. We share a win apiece from the first round, but once we keep our shape and be disciplined for majority of the game, I know we can keep a clean sheet, and in the same breath take our chances when they come, we can come away with three points,” said Patrick.

Holy Trinity had a real battle to get into the quarter-final round, overcoming Haile Selassie on penalties to make it to the final eight. Their main man Shai Smith put them ahead in the first half against St George's College on Saturday, but they were pegged back by a Damani Hurst equaliser with two thirds of the game played.

The Devon Anderson-coached Holy Trinity will need to concentrate for 90 minutes against a determined STATHS team that has not lost a game all season. Technical Director Michael Williams had forged a steely resolve throughout the spine of the STATHS team who are bent on advancing further in the competition. A draw is on the cards for this game. Both teams will know the score in the other game in the group before they kick off and will know exactly what they need to do to come away with the advantage at day's end.

At the end of match day two we should be closer to knowing which four teams will be in the semi-finals of the Manning Cup.

— Dwayne Richards

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