Ryon Jones, Gleaner Writer
Powered by influential playmaker Chevonne 'Messi' Marsh, Calabar High seized sole leadership of Group A after turning back Excelsior High 2-1 in their Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Gatorade/Digicel Manning Cup schoolboy football encounter at their Red Hills Road grounds yesterday.
Marsh opened the scoring in the 24th minute from the penalty spot, before Brian Richards pulled Excelsior level in the 36th minute. Javon East netted Calabar's winner - much to the delight of the huge gathering of supporters - in the 55th minute.
The victory took Calabar to nine points, while Excelsior stayed second on six points.
The other game contested in the group between Holy Trinity and St Catherine ended one-all to leave both teams on four points, while Greater Portmore, who were idle, are yet to record a point.
Marsh was delighted to have scored the opening goal for his team, which he believes gave them the confidence to go on and win the game.
Three goals in three games
"It's a great feeling that my school came out victorious and I scored the opening goal to put them in the lead and build their confidence," Marsh expressed.
The 17-year-old, who was scoring his third goal in as many games, is no stranger to winning, however, as just last season he captained Cavalier to the Corporate Area under-17 title; netting the lone goal in the final against Boys' Town.
Despite his impressive showing in that Confed competition, he was overlooked for the national under-17 team which participated at the World Cup earlier this year.
"I was disappointed and surprised that I did not make the under-17 team, and I know that I'm a good player and that I could have started in that under-17 team," Marsh stated.
Calabar's coach Marvin Tate joined those on the sidelines who had high praises for Marsh.
"I think this is his third MVP (game) for the season," Tate said. "We have played three games and he is basically the man who is dictating the space for the team."
He added: "I think the national programme needs to be taking a close look at him, as he is one for the future and we need to nurture him so that he will be able to come good for Jamaica."
The quality displayed by the players on park was in keeping with that of a top-of-the-table clash from the opening whistle.
The first goal came after Marsh was fouled in the penalty area. He brushed himself off to easily dispatch the spot kick.
Zhelano Barnes conjured a magical equaliser for Excelsior, when he got by four players on the right side of the Calabar area, before chipping a delightful ball to Richards, who side-footed home from close range.
The winner came by way of a slick give-and-go between East and Kyle Scott, which was finished off by the former.
Six minutes earlier, Marsh had a second penalty saved by Excelsior's custodian Ryan Jackson.
Jackson's opposite number, Richard Chambers, was even more heroic, as he saved Barnes' penalty in the 73rd minute and got back to his feet to save his follow-up effort to ensure his team would secure victory.
Calabar 2 Excelsior 1
Holy Trinity 1 St Catherine 1
Wolmer's 4 Vauxhall 1
Ascot 2 Haile Selassie 1
Charlie Smith 4 Dunoon 0
Edith Dalton James 1 Innswood 8
Tarrant 0 St George's 2
Meadowbrook 0 Spanish Town 0
Papine vs Waterford
Denham Town vs Campion
Tivoli vs Hydel
Kingston Technical vs Cumberland
Jamaica College vs St Jago
Camperdown vs Pembroke Hall
Penwood vs Ardenne
Donald Quarrie vs Norman Manley
STATHS vs St Mary's College
Bridgeport vs Jose Marti