MONTEGO BAY, St James — Manning Cup champions St George's College salvaged a 1-1 draw against Hydel High in the opening match of the ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel Schoolboy Football Competition at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex yesterday.
Patrick Okonkwo put Hydel ahead in the 24th minute, while Romario Jones drew the 'Light Blues' level late in time added.
St George's coach Neville 'Bertis' Bell was relieved to come away with a point from the game.
"I thought it was a good schoolboy game. I thank God that we got the point. It is better to leave the game with a point than no point at all," Bell remarked during a post-game interview.
He added: "I thought Hydel played well. We were not as sharp as I think we could be. This is not the worst start. We started like this before and we went on to do very well," he said.
Jeffery Maxwell, who conditions the Hydel outfit, expressed disappointment at not claiming full points from the game.
"I thought we should have come away at least 2-1, especially in the second half. Although George's was pressing us we had the breakaways and one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
But it's football all over; when you think it's all yours you sometimes lose it," Maxwell said.
Hydel dominated most of the first half and surged ahead after Okonkwo's powerful header was too much for St Georges goalie Nico Campbell to handle.
They should have extended the lead midway the second half when Campbell lost his balance after making a save and stumbled across the line, seemingly taking the ball with him.
The referee, however, ruled the ball did not cross the line.
But the close shave seemed to have awakened St George's, who came into their own and launched numerous attacks, penning Hydel in their own half for extended periods.
On several occasions, the 'Light Blues' were denied by the brilliance of goalkeeper Romaine Harrison, who at one point denied Cardel Benbow who had hustled his way past a number of defenders and unleashed a 'pile-driver'.
The 'keeper also denied Oshane Boothe, whose shot seemingly had 'goal' written all over it.
However, Jones' powerfully-hit shot late in the game rocketed past Hamilton to draw the teams level. The final whistle sounded almost immediately after the goal.