Excelsior High scored a hard-fought come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Zone A rivals Norman Manley High in their feature ISSA/Digicel/Gatorade Manning Cup match at Mountain View Avenue yesterday.
Leonard Page fired the visitors in front after 15 minutes of play. But Kareem Banton equalised for the hosts on the stroke of half-time, before substitute Cadine Graham came up with the winner 65 minutes into the contest.
The result left both teams atop the standings with six points apiece, but Excelsior have maximum points from two matches and have played a game less.
Excelsior's coach Leebert Halliman said Norman Manley is the best team in the group and it was important they got three points from their home fixture.
"We wanted to win this game because it is going to be difficult when we go there," he said, adding that although they went behind early in the contest, his team's superior fitness and strength proved decisive in the end.
Counterpart Miguel Coley said his team executed its game plan for most of the first half but lost concentration and gave up the equaliser. However, he also believed referee Carvel Banton erred when he failed to call a foul against goalkeeper Mark Allen which led to the go-ahead goal.
In a gritty and bruising contest, the visitors went ahead when the Excelsior defence failed to clear their lines and Page pounced and fired past Ryan Jackson in goal.
However, the home team pulled level in added time at the end of the first half when Delanto Pottinger controlled the ball for Banton, who placed it out of the reach of Allen from 18 yards.
But with chances coming few and far between, Excelsior made the most of indecisive defending from the Norman Manley defence to score the winner.
A high ball was played into the area which saw a Norman Manley defender clattering into his goalkeeper. Graham was on hand to stroke home the loose ball from point-blank range.
In Zone B of the competition, Jamaica College (JC) joined Camperdown atop the standings with six points following Junior Flemming and Stephan Logan's goals in a 2-1 defeat of St Jago - their second win in as many games.
In Zone G, Charlie Smith High registered the biggest win in the competition this season after clobbering Meadowbrook, 14-0. Lennox Russell netted six goals and Raylon Paisley two for the former winners.
The group's other game between Ardenne and St Andrew Technical ended goalless.
Meanwhile, the Zone D game between St Mary's College and Innswood ended 1-1, and the lone Zone F match between Kingston Technical and Jose Marti also ended scoreless.
In today's schedule, Tivoli Gardens High entertain Haile Selassie High and Calabar High host Bridgeport in Zone D. In Zone F, Oberlin host Donald Quarrie High and St Andrew College tackle Wolmer's Boys'.
In Zone F, Kingston College (KC) take on Pembroke Hall at Cloverly Park in the group's only game.