Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The penultimate round of matches in the ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel daCosta Cup football competition gets under way today setting the stage for a final attempt by some schools to grab a place in the inter-zone round.
Ten games are on today across four zones with the former champions St James High seeking to shore up their qualification to the next round at the expense of Maldon in Zone A.
The 2008 winners, still second in the zone on seven points behind many-time champions Cornwall College, will hope to get the better of a struggling Maldon, who with three points are already just playing for pride as they are without hope of advancing.
A win for St James would see them temporarily joining Cornwall at the summit in the zone on 10 points. But if Zone A is a real hotbed, then Zone D is sizzling, with at least three schools still in the mix for the leadership, with only two rounds of games remaining including today's clashes.
It is a must-win scenario for the Aaron Lawrence-coached Manning's School, who although racking up 14 points to lead the zone could find themselves in third spot and out of the competition if they lose to third- place Grange Hill (12 points).
That would leave the door wide open for Petersfield High, which sit second on 13, to leapfrog Manning's if they win their last game set for Saturday, which would take them to an insurmountable 17 points.
"All our players know it is a must-win for us against Grange Hill. We know the pressure is there, but we remain focused on the three points," said Lawrence.
"We just have to win this game and qualify, or lose and go home. It's as simple as that. But we are confident we can win against them," he said.
The only game between them this year ended in a 1-1 stalemate, but Lawrence is adamant his players can achieve a win.
"We are going there for nothing less than to take all three points with us. A draw is not good enough, so a win is a must."
The other match in the zone will see Godfrey Stewart hosting Little London High.
In Zone I, third-place Marcus Garvey High (13) could pick up additional points when they tackle bottom team Albert Town, with a chance to catch second-place team Brown's Town (17 points).
Meanwhile, over in Zone M, already qualified Garvey Maceo, who lead with 22 points, tackle third-place Denbigh High, while Glenmuir, second with 19 points, play Porus and should account for all three points.