WHILE Shane Michael Gage, head coach of the Norman Manley High School football team, was not thrilled with his team's 1-0 victory over Holy Trinity in the ISSA Manning Cup tournament, he feels the victory might be the start of a successful season for his squad.
On Friday at Alpha Institute (formerly Alpha Boys' School), Nashawn Fearon scored the game-winning goal in the 26th minute of play to give Norman Manley a well-earned three points to kick-start his team's campaign.
The victory moved Norman Manley into a tie for third place in the standings with Edith Dalton James, who have only played one game so far. With six points from two games, St Catherine and Mona are equal for top position. Holy Trinity, Inswood, and St Mary's High have yet to make an impression.
St Catherine had defeated St Mary's High 10-0 while Mona had a 5-1 win over Inswood High, in their games also played Friday.
"It wasn't the best performance but, as the saying goes: 'An ugly win is preferable to a pretty loss.' So, despite that, we are grateful and we are giving God thanks for the three points," Gage told the Jamaica Observer.
Both Norman Manley and Holy Trinity were uncomfortable at the outset of the game because they couldn't keep possession of the ball. However, as the game went on Holy Trinity seized control and had a chance to score in the seventh minute of play. Uyi Brown blasted wide from close range after a wonderful cross from Teiyono Vassell inside the box.
Another chance presented itself six minutes later in the 13th minute from a free kick well beyond the area, when Kevin Hamilton's effort struck the crossbar.
Norman Manley, on the other hand, took some time to get their footing in the game but when they did, they scored. Fearon's shot towards goal had an inconsistent bounce but it was enough to overcome Holy Trinity goalkeeper Stephen Wray.
When Norman Manley's Atonio Mitchell pulled down Brown inside the box, resulting in a penalty in the 34th minute, Holy Trinity had the perfect opportunity to equalise. To conclude the first half Neyo Walton stepped up for the glory shot but his attempt was beautifully stopped by goalie Ranaldo Johnson.
After the restart both sides went on the offensive in quest of goals, but neither was able to hit the back of the net.