Key battles on in Manning Cup as teams hope to keep dream alive

THERE are four key games on across all three groups in the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association/Digicel Manning Cup today.

In Group A, champions Jamaica College (JC) go into the game against Kingston High at noon with back-to-back wins under their belt, which has seen them climb to third place with seven points.

Kingston High are also unbeaten in their last two games and have picked up four points from games against Calabar and Bridgeport with whom they are now level.

But Keith Johnson's team will have their hands full against the champions who have now hit top form, which they showed in blowing away St George's College (STGC) 6-0 last Friday.

JC Captain Duncan McKenzie hit three past former champions STGC and has scored a total of four in his team's last two games. Johnson will have to find a way to shut down the JC midfield maestro if they are to have a chance of getting anything from the game that will be played at the Ashenheim Stadium.

The feature game at Old Hope Road pits two struggling teams, St George's College and Calabar High, against each other. Both teams have lost their last two games and see their chances of advancing to the quarter-finals slipping away as they sit fourth and fifth, respectively, in the group. Only the top two are guaranteed a spot in the second round so both teams desperately need a win.

Both Neville Bell and David Lalor will have their work cut out for them. Their players will have to respond in a game where neither team can afford to drop points if they are to keep their slim play-off hopes alive.

At Prison Oval, St Jago High will try to do something that no other team has done so far this season — and that is to stop runaway leaders Camperdown High from winning.

Camperdown were the first team to secure a spot in the quarter-finals of the Manning Cup when they beat Jonathan Grant 1-0 last Saturday to make it five wins from five games and move up to 15 points. They will now be aiming to finish the first round unbeaten.

But if St Jago are to keep their slim hopes of grabbing the second spot in the group alive, they must be the first to stop the Donovan Lofters-coached team who have looked imperious so far this season.

The fourth game of the day comes from Group C and will be played at the Stadium East Field starting at 3:00 pm.

Leaders Kingston College will be idle as their game against St Mary's College has been cancelled due to the withdrawal of the team from Above Rocks in St Andrew. So, the focus will turn to the match between Wolmer's Boys' School and Mona High.

Wolmer's started the season with a bang when they drubbed St Mary's College 13-0, but that result has since been wiped from the record books. They then lost to Kingston College before winning against Clan Carthy High to have three points from two games, officially.

Mona High have been a real challenge to the teams they have faced so far, and after losing their opening game to KC have been able to snatch four points from their subsequent two games to sit in third place in the group with four points.

This match promises to be a tricky tie for the boys from Heroes' Circle as the Mona team plays a hard-paced game that will test the mettle of Sean Fraser's team. Mona stand as fair a chance of winning this game as do Wolmer's.

A win for Mona keeps them among the top places in the group and with a sniff at the quarter-finals while anything less than a win for Wolmer's will see their chances of play-off football all but erased.

Wolmer's will have to be on top of their game to win the match and they can expect a rough and tumble game from a Mona team that is expected to go all the way as per the sentiments of their coach Craig Butler.

Today's games

Group A

Kingston High vs Jamaica College @ Ashenheim Stadium @ noon

St George's College vs Calabar @ Ashenheim Stadium @ 3:00 pm

Group B

St Jago vs Camperdown @ Prison Oval @ 3:00 pm

Group C

Wolmer's Boys vs Mona High @ Stadium East @ 3:00 pm

— Dwayne Richards

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