EXCELSIOR High turned back Calabar, 2-0, while Spanish Town defeated Donald Quarrie High, 2-1, as second round Group H action in the ISSA Digicel/Gatorade Manning Cup got underway at Constant Spring yesterday.
In the feature game, Ojay Bedward's 64th-minute wonder strike and Tevin Jackson's 81st-minute goal gave the Leebert Halliman-coached Excelsior three valuable points which vaulted them atop the group on goal difference over Spanish Town.
In the opening match, Spanish Town got the better Donald Quarrie through a first-half own-goal and a Nathaniel Leslie free kick. Marvin Gregory pulled a goal back for the east-Kingston school, but Spanish Town held on for the win.
The feature match lived up to its billing as Excelsior and Calabar went at it from the opening whistle.
Calabar started out the better of the teams, but the best chance of the half fell to Excelsior's Kareem Banton, whose effort was saved on the second attempt by goalkeeper Richard Chambers midway the period.
However, after the break Excelsior came out the stronger team and after pushing back their opponents for most of the half, broke the deadlock through midfield maestro Bedward who smashed a half-volley past Chambers from 40 yards.
The goal pulled Calabar out of their shell and their constant assault on the Excelsior penalty area kept the latter's defence on its toes.
But after weathering the onslaught, Excelsior added to their lead nine minutes from time when Chambers spilled a free kick at his near post and Jackson was on hand to put away the loose ball.
Halliman said their opponents were a bit match rusty, but he believed they were the stronger team.
"Everybody was cursing the boys all week (after the Walker Cup defeat), but I told them that I am the coach and I am the only one who can give them a game... I also told them that we cannot allow Calabar to beat us," he said.
Calabar's manager Holmer Morgan said it was a disappointing start to their second round campaign and it will now be an uphill task trying to overtake Excelsior.
"It's going to be hard to catch Excelsior... but once there is life, there is hope," Morgan stated.
In the first game, Leslie drove home a left-footed free kick to put Spanish Town ahead. Six minutes later they added a second when Jemar Grant converted against his own team.
Four minutes after the interval, Gregory pulled cut the deficit in half for Donald Quarrie, but Spanish Town remained the better team throughout and were denied another when captain Owen Walters fired home from the edge of the area, only for one a teammates to be called for offside.
Spanish Town's coach Anthony Thompson said the performance was disappointing, but he was confident they would perform better in the matches to come.
Donald Quarrie's coach Wayne Bruce said he had hoped for at least a point to start the round, "so this loss set us back badly", he said.
In today's games, Kingston College (KC) play Denham Town and Jamaica College (JC) take on Hydel High in Group I at Constant Spring, while at the Spanish Town Prison Oval, Bridgeport High face Norman Manley and Wolmer's Boys' tackle Innswood High in Group K.
The opening matches start at 1:00 pm and second at 3:00.
Donald Quarrie's Michael Lutas (left) gets around Spanish Town's goalscorer Nathaniel Leslie to steal possession during their Group H second round ISSA/Digicel/Gatorade Manning Cup match at Constant Spring Complex yesterday. Spanish Town High won 2-1. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)