DEFENDING champions St George's College battled to 1-1 draw with a spirited Charlie Smith High in their ISSA/LIME Manning Cup match at Winchester Park yesterday, but slipped to second spot in Group D behind Camperdown High, who edged Vauxhall High 1-0.
The Christopher Bender-coached Camperdown moved to 10 points from four games ahead of St George's College on eight, with Charlie Smith and Vauxhall on five points each, in what is shaping up to be an intriguing group.
In the other Group D action, Oberlin High registered their first win of the season by stunning Donald Quarrie High 2-0 to move to four points.
In Group C, Wolmer's Boys' came from behind to earn a late 1-1 draw with Denham Town and maintained top spot on goal difference with 10 points, the same as Denham Town.
St Catherine High jumped into third spot with nine points following their 1-0 win over Papine High, while Kingston Technical won their first match with a close 2-1 win over Clan Carthy.
In Group F, Greater Portmore High shocked Kingston College (KC) 1-0, while Spanish Town whipped Eltham High 3-1.
In a group down to just five teams, Spanish Town took control, on seven points from three games ahead of Greater Portmore, on five points. Eltham are third with four points, while KC are fourth on three points, but with a game in hand.
In the feature encounter at Winchester Park, STGC began a three-week period duing which they will be without the influential Cordell Benbow, who is overseas on trials at an academy in the United States, and they struggled to break down a spirited Charlie Smith outfit.
The 'Light Blues' depended a lot on captain Ryan Miller in midfield, but once the visitors grew in confidence, they looked more dangerous and deservedly took the lead when Ryan Smith slotted home in the 50th minute.
Orlando Richie latched onto a pass down the right flank and his high cross was nodded back across goal for Smith to fire home.
But immediately Charlie Smith went on the defensive and allowed the home team back in the game, and they paid dearly, as Miller equalised in the 55th minute from the penalty spot.
His first attempt was well-blocked by goalkeeper Leon Taylor, but referee Kevin Thomas saw an infringement and ordered a retake and he made no mistake the second time of asking.
It was an exciting encounter in which both teams could have won, but Charlie Smith must be the more disappointed of the teams having played well, especially with the skilful Bebeto McDonald up front, and captain Vasbert Harry marshalling his troops from the middle of the park alongside Chevaughn Edwards. St George's College also got some chances late on, but poor finishing put paid to their chances.
It will be three crucial weeks for St George's to be without Benbow, as four teams are still in the running for the two spots to advance to the next round, and already, Camperdown, have a two-point advantage, which will be crucial in this competitive group.