Second Round showdown - Manning Cup hopefuls face stern tests as action heats up in competition
Wolmer’s Boys, who are seeking their first Manning Cup title in over 20 years, will face a true test of their title credentials when they go up against dark horses, St Catherine High in the first of two Second Round first-leg ties at the Spanish Town Prison Oval this afternoon.
Wolmer’s take on St Catherine in the feature game at 3:00 p.m., while Eltham tackle St Andrew Technical in the opening game at 1:00 p.m., and coach Alex Thomas, while bracing for a real challenge, is backing his boys to deliver a positive result in what he expects will be a fiery encounter.
“The expectation is that it is going to be a tough one going over Spanish Town on their home turf. It is not going to be an easy game but we understand these types of games and what is required, so we will have to get out the 12th man early – their spectators,” Thomas declared.
“... We know what to expect because over the years playing against Spanish Town teams on their home turf is always a tough fight and we will have to dig deep for this one, but we are always confident that these boys will deliver, we just have to keep them grounded and focussed on the task so they can deliver on the day,” Thomas added.
“This is the second phase, a knock-out phase and teams are not going to come a lay down, they are playing for a spot to go into the next phase. But we know what kind of football is required, it’s going to be a tough, hard-fought one but we are going there to put in a workman-like performance.”
Meanwhile, at Stadium East, Vauxhall play defending champions and number one seed Kingston College (KC) at 2:00 p.m., while Holy Trinity tackle Camperdown at 4:00 p.m., with KC’s head coach Ludlow Bernard underlining that his team will not be taking anything for granted against the last placed Second Round seeds in the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup.
“From you qualify for the next round of the competition it must be of some merit and value, so we will respect the opposition that we are faced with and we will prepare ourselves for the opponents. We have an obligation to play this game and we are going all out to make sure we are victorious,” Bernard told The Gleaner.
KC ran riot in the First Round, topping Group G with a maximum 30 points from their 10 games, scoring 39 goals and conceding one. However, Bernard reasoned that the lack of competitive games in the group stage saw his team’s level of play suffering somewhat, but he hopes the second phase of the tournament will rekindle their motivation and bring out the best from his players.
“I am not totally pleased with the First Round performance. The quality of the opposition tapered off a bit and what it did to my team, was it made them drop their standards. We have played a few practice games in-between that have lifted them and they seem more lively. So I am hoping that now that we are in the business end of the competition, it will be motivation enough for them to lift their game to what is required for us to win these games on Wednesday and Saturday,” Bernard said.
For today’s first-leg, Kingston College will be without striker Ari Rodgers and midfielder Christopher Pearson due to injury, but Bernard is not worried by their absence and fully expects his team to deliver the desired result against the Vauxhall outfit.
Meanwhile, Vauxhall, who finished third behind Jamaica College (JC) and Wolmer’s in Group E, are no pushovers and are quite capable of presenting difficulties for KC.
Apart from the 5-0 drilling they received in their opening game against Wolmer’s, the east-Kingston-based school has performed credibly in the competition. They had close losses to JC - 2-0 and 1-0 and drew their second meeting with Wolmer’s, while handsomely beating the other teams in the group quite convincingly.
Eltham vs STATHS 1:00 pm @ Prison Oval
St Catherine vs Wolmer’s 3:00 pm @ Prison Oval
Vauxhall vs Kingston College 2:00 pm @ Stadium East
Holy Trinity vs Camperdown 4:00 pm @ Stadium East.