Urban champions St George's College took a giant step towards crowning themselves 2011-12 all-island schoolboy football champions yesterday, when they clipped their rural counterparts Rusea's High 1-0 in their first-leg Olivier Shield final at Jarrett Park in Montego Bay.
Looking stronger, better organised and more potent, the Neville 'Bertis' Bell-coached 'Georgians' got their all-important goal from Davion Kelly to set themselves up nicely for Saturday's second-leg game at the Constant Spring playing field.
"I thought we played quite well today. We had a lot of possession and I believe we could have scored a couple more goals," said Bell, whose team is gunning to win the season's triple - Manning Cup, Walker Cup and Olivier Shield.
"We did not give the Rusea's team a chance to settle down, but you could see that they are a pretty decent team," he added.
Lucky goal for rusea's
For the Rusea's team, which look rather tired, if not lacklustre, they did not show the fluency displayed in last Saturday's daCosta Cup final against St Elizabeth Technical High School and must consider themselves fortunate to be trailing by just one goal.
"We were too laid-back today," said Rusea's coach Anthony 'Follies' Williams. "I don't know if it was a case of fatigue. However, we will just have to try and regroup for the second game."
St George's settled quickly and had much the better of the early exchanges. In fact, they should have taken the lead in the ninth minute when Ricardo Henry powered his way through the defence, but after going around goalkeeper Richard Trench, his shot was cleared off the goal line.
After seeing Rusea's wasting a half chance in the 17th minute, St George's got a glorious chance in the 21st minute. Following a slick exchange of passes between Kelly, Andrew Lewis and Kendon Anderson, Kelly fired weakly at the goalkeeper.
Midway the half, Rusea's created a rare opening when star striker Brian 'Rambo' Brown broke away from his marker, but fired his shot straight at the alert goalkeeper.
In the dying moments of the half, St George's got back-to-back chances in the 41st and 43rd minutes. First, Richard Garvey danced in off the left flank, but fired over the crossbar; and second, Henry got away before the goal but fired wide.
Strong second half for champs
The second half started with St George's again calling the tune and forcing back the Rusea's team. However, the openings created, especially by the flashy Lewis, were not properly utilised.
With the game 55 minutes old, St George's finally took the lead courtesy of a major blunder by a Rusea's defender, who miskicked and then fell, allowing Kelly the opportunity to fire home easily, making the score 1-0.
St George's increased their stranglehold on the game after the goal, allowing Rusea's limited opportunities to seriously challenge for an equaliser. The Hanover team got another rare chance in the 73rd minute, but Kieno Williams fumbled and lost possession.
In the dying moments, St George's wasted back-to-back chances through Lewis, who fired a savage grounder wide; and substitute Cordel Benbow, who fired straight at the goalkeeper.