FROME, Westmoreland — Mannings School scored a massive 3-0 upset win over two-time ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel daCosta Cup defending champions Rusea's High at Frome Sports Complex as the Inter-zone round got underway yesterday.
Former national Under-17 representative Melvin Blair scored twice and set up the third goal as the Aaron Lawrence-coached Mannings who only advanced to this stage of the competition after Petersfield High wasted a chance in a rescheduled game, snapped Rusea's amazing 68-match unbeaten run dating back to 2008.
Prior to yesterday's defeat, Rusea's were last beaten in a daCosta Cup game by Lacovia High in the quarter-finals of the 2008 season where they also lost to Spalding High, the eventual finalists.
In that stretch, Rusea's won the last two titles and dropped out of the competition in 2009 after drawing all three games in the Inter-zone round after winning two matches and drawing four in the regular season.
Meanwhile, Lennon High also won, beating Bellefield High, 3-0, at Brancourt, while Maggotty High and Tacius Golding drew 1-1 at the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex in Santa Cruz.
The competition continues this afternoon with 13 games, including William Knibb versus Cornwall College at Jarrett Park, Grange Hill against Frome at Frome and Clarendon College against Manchester High at Brancourt.
Grange Hill had earlier beaten Frome in sudden-death penalty kicks on their way to qualifying for the finals of the Ben Francis KO, while William Knibb and Manchester topped Cornwall and Clarendon on penalty-kicks.
Mannings went into yesterday's game as rank underdogs after Lawrence resigned from the job following a 2-0 loss to Grange Hill, which appeared to have knocked them out of the competition for a second straight year as Petersfield needed just a draw against last-placed Godfrey Stewart to advance.
Petersfield inexplicably fielded a weakened team and were beaten, opening up the door for Mannings. Lawrence resumed his position since then, leading them to yesterday's huge win.
Blair headed Mannings into the lead in the 12th minute before adding a second from the spot early in the second half, then killed off the contest late in the game with a shot that came back to teammate Andre Smith, who made no mistake from close range.
The margin could have been wider had Mannings not hit the post twice, once in either half.
Today, the three winners from the Ben Francis KO competition will seek to prove the results a fortnight ago were not fluke, while the winners will try to show they are able to make adjustments.
This sets the stage for what should be competitive matches, as with only the winners from the eight zones advancing to the quarter-finals, there is little room for mistakes.
St Elizabeth Technical High (STETHS), last season's beaten finalists and finalists in the Ben Francis KO, will travel to Kirkvine where they will face Spalding High.
Paul Bogle, one of the better teams in the competition so far this season, will face Garvey Maceo at York Oval in what should be one of a top game, but will be without the influential Sergeni Frankson, who suffered a fractured leg in their KO defeat against STETHS on Saturday.
Former champions Glenmuir will face Seaforth in the second match at Jamalco after Kemps Hill High and Dinthill Technical face-off in the opener at 1:00 pm.
In a repeat from last season, Cedric Titus and St Mary High meet at Drax Hall where the Trelawny-based Cedric Titus won 1-0.