Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
St George's College have lost six players to National Under-20 duties, as they seek to bounce back from their Walker Cup exit at the semi-final stage and continue the defence of their Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA)/Gatorade/ Digicel Manning Cup title.
Today, in second-round Group J action they face Holy Trinity High in the first game of a double-header at the Constant Spring Complex with match time set for 1 p.m. The second match will see two three-time champions, Charlie Smith High and Camperdown High, go head-to-head at 3 p.m.
St George's will be without Nico Campbell, Zhelano Barnes, Romario Jones, Oshane Boothe, Mark Brown and leading scorer Andre Lewis, as they seek to extend a 25-game unbeaten run in the Manning Cup. Their last defeat was a 2-1 loss to Bridgeport High in the second round back in 2011.
Charlie Smith and Holy Trinity lead the group with a point each after playing to a 1-1 draw last week Saturday. The game between St George's and Camperdown was not played as the latter did not turn up. The match has, however, been rescheduled by ISSA, as Camperdown had missed the match due to a communication mix-up.
St George's 30-game unbeaten run in senior schoolboy competitions came to an end in the semi-final of the Walker Cup where they were beaten 2-1 by Wolmer's Boys, but coach Neville Bell is confident his young charges can bounce back from the disappointment.
"We will be without our six national players, but we have quality players in the squad," Bell assured. "We know Holy Trinity are a good team, but we are confident and once we play the way we can play we should win," he added.
Most prolific team
Last year's triple champions completed the first round as the joint most prolific team, with 50 goals to top their group, while Holy Trinity found the back of the net on only 16 occasions to place second in their group behind Spanish Town.
"We know they (St George's) are quite good when they are attacking; we just have to do what we have done in most of the tougher games; soak up the pressure and try to catch them on the counter-attack," Holy Trinity's coach Nigel Webb said.
Charlie Smith, who also managed 50 goals in 10 games in the opening round, know only a win is good enough following their opening second-round result.
"If we don't win we will be out of contention, so it is a crucial encounter," coach Jerome Waite said. "The most important thing is that when the 90 minutes are completed we get the three points, so if it is even the one goal we need to score to win."
Camperdown placed second to Jamaica College in the opening round to reach the next stage, but have the worst offensive record in the round, having managed only 11 goals. Coach Christopher Bender is not perturbed too much by this, however, as he believes defence wins championships.
"Given that it is a point system where the majority of points get you to the semi-finals, you always want to try and get maximum points," Bender said. "As difficult as it is going to be, and with the inadequate preparations due to the storm, and the players disorientated in terms of people having various problems, hopefully, we can put all of this behind us and get a positive result."