FORMER champions Kingston College (KC) wrapped up the group phase of the shortened Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association/Digicel Manning Cup season with an unbeaten record after edging St Catherine High 2-1 in Group C play at Spanish Town Prison Oval yesterday.
Ronardo Burgher (28th) and Taraj Andrews (62nd) got the goals for Kingston College before Dillion Richards (78th) pulled one back for St Catherine, whose hearts were broken as the loss denied them a chance to progress to the quarter-finals.
The win for the North Street-based team saw them finishing atop the group with maximum 15 points from five games, with Mona High taking the runner-up position to also move forward.
Meanwhile, Jose Marti clipped Dunoon Technical 1-0 in the Group C curtain-raiser at Prison Oval.
The game, which was one of academic interests, was blown off five minutes earlier than scheduled as the Dunoon Technical coaches refused to finish in protest after Kingston College players were allowed to warm up behind the goal.
Elsewhere in Group A, Charlie Smith edged St George's College 2-1 at Stadium East to move to 12 points, same as Kingston Technical, but missed out on the second automatic spot due to an inferior goal difference.
However, the points accumulated should be enough to see them through to the quarter-finals as the next best third-place team.
On that note, Jamaica College, Mona High, Tivoli Gardens High and best third-place team Excelsior are set to battle in Group One, while Group Two comprises Kingston College, Camperdown, Kingston Technical and Charlie Smith.
The quarter-finals are scheduled to get under way on Friday or Saturday.
At Prison Oval, the feature contest kicked off almost half-hour later than scheduled but when things got going both teams wasted little time in getting settled.
Both had their fair share of chances in the early exchanges before Kingston College gradually asserted some authority in the probe for the opening goal.
In the 24th minute Captain Jemone Barclay struck the crossbar with a stinging right-footed effort after a tidy build-up took apart St Catherine's defence.
The victors eventually broke the deadline shortly after when Burgher headed past custodian Croccifixio Thompson from Devonte Walker's well-weighted cross.
They could have doubled the lead 10 minutes later but Christopher Pearson failed to hold his composure and hit a right-footer over the crossbar despite having space and time deep inside the 18-yard box.
Anthony Patrick's St Catherine tried to mount a comeback but found Kingston College giving little away in their defensive third as the score remained unchanged at the break.
Not satisfied with the one-goal advantage, Ludlow Bernard's side applied consistent pressure on the resumption but were made to wait to add to their tally, as a lack of composure and some good glovework by Thompson denied them.
Burgher thought he had a brace on the hour mark when he again expertly headed down a corner kick but Thompson, diving to his weaker left side, got down well in time to parry.
Thompson was however caught flat-footed two minutes later when substitute Jean-Marc Gayle floated in a cross that eluded his defenders and bounced at a nice height for Andrews to head home at the far post.
Still, St Catherine continued to battle bravely and could have pulled one back in the 68th minute had Ellis Guscott not skied his solo effort from close range.
Kingston College were also hanging their heads in despair shortly after when another substitute, Jaheem Johnson, struck the crossbar from a distance.
St Catherine dug deep and narrowed the deficit when Guscott was felled inside the danger area. Captain Joel Palmer's 12-yard penalty kick was blocked by Rasheed Johnston in goal for Kingston College, but Richards arrived ahead of the pack to fire home the rebound from close range.
However, that was all they would get from an unrelenting Kingston College outfit who would have had more had it not been for Thompson.
Charlie Smith 2, St George's College 1
Kingston College 2, St Catherine 1
Jose Marti Technical 1, Dunoon Technical 0
Papine High 0, Wolmer's Boys' 3