Marc Stamp, Gleaner Writer
Favourites Wolmer's and Bridgeport High got off to winning starts with wins against Norman Manley and Holy Trinity, respectively, in Group J of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/LIME Manning Cup football competition, at Constant Spring Complex, yesterday.
In the first game of a double-header, title favourites Wolmer's had a hard-fought 1-0 win over Norman Manley High, while in the second game, Bridgeport, which ended the game with 10 players, outscored Holy Trinity 4-2.
Wolmer's, who are highly-favoured to win this year's title, fought hard for the victory courtesy of a goal by Jaheel Hyde in the third minute. Hyde netted his 13th goal of the season.
The Wolmer's team made a number of openings in the Norman Manley backline, but were let down by poor finishing. On the other hand, Norman Manley did little offensively and were never a real threat in the game.
Wolmer's coach, Ludlow Bernard, was not totally impressed with his team's performance, but happy for the three points.
"It is probably our worst game of the season, but I am happy for the win to kickstart the second round," Bernard told The Gleaner. "We have a very poor shot/goal ratio, so we have told our defenders to let in nothing. We kept Norman Manley in the game, and that has been happening from the first round.".
Meanwhile, Alrick Clarke, coach of Norman Manley, said: "We perform as how we train, a lot of them (players) missed training, and when you fail to prepare that is what happens.
"With our next game on Thursday, it is little time, and to stay in contention for a semi-final spot, we have to win our two remaining games in the group," Clarke, who guided Norman Manley to two previous Manning Cup titles, noted.
Bridgeport, led by a brace from Ryan Squire in the 33rd and 48th minutes, plus goals by Rojay Smith (16th) and Timothy Kamaka (77th), ensured a good start. Nicholas Hamilton netted both goals for Holy Trinity, in the 27th and 40th minutes.
The Tyrone Roberts-coached Bridgeport showed resilience after Keldino Davis sacrificed himself when he handled a ball that was destined for goal and was red-carded in the 39th minute. The resulting penalty kick was easily converted by Hamilton.
"We played good in the latter part of the game," said Bridgeport's Roberts. "Being down, we knew what to do, as we trained for that; we worked on playing short.
"Now we have to prepare for our next encounter that is against Wolmer's. This will be a crucial clash and could determine which team advances to the semi-final stage," Roberts pointed out.