Photo: Jamaica College striker Duhaney Williams scores his sixth Manning Cup goal of the season when he pokes home a Ronaldo Brown cross from 3 yards out. Williams's strike was enough to earn JC all three points against St. Jago High on Wednesday, as the defending champions advanced to the semifinals.
Defending champions Jamaica College eased into the semi-finals of the ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup competition when they completed a routine 1-0 win over a toothless St. Jago High in their last quarter final round game at the Constant Spring Field on Wednesday.
Having won both of their previous games in the round, JC required a single point to advance but were able to secure all three courtesy of a lone strike by Duhaney Williams in the 14th minute.
The usual afternoon downpour associated with that area of the island made the field virtually unplayable at the start of the game. The players struggled to move the ball in the first few minutes as it got stuck in puddles of water on different areas of the pitch, but as the surface water ran off the conditions became a little more playable.
JC made the best of the conditions and after a couple of threats on the St. Jago goal, made the breakthrough, when Ronaldo Brown drove into the box down the left side, before delivering an inviting cross for Williams to poke home from 3 yards.
Chavany Willis thought he had doubled his team’s lead when he headed home from close range just moments later, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
JC continued to attack the St. Jago goal as their inexperienced opponents struggled to keep hold of the ball in the wet, muddy and slippery conditions.
Donovan Dawkins down the left, Williams down the right and Brown through the middle were a constant threat on the St. Jago goal, forcing captain and goalkeeper Akeem Chambers to remain on high alert to the always imminent danger.
The custodian made more than one crucial interception to keep the score at 1-0 at the half time break.
Energized by not being behind by too many at the break, the young St. Jago team played a better second half, mixing it up with their opponents in midfield but never managing to venture threateningly into the final third.
They did however, have to survive a serious onslaught at the start of the second half.
Willis stung the palms of Chambers with a rasping drive just moments after the restart and within seconds Chambers was called into action yet again when Jeraldine Bennett, placed his header on target from a Dawkins cross.
Williams should have doubled his tally and that of his team when he was picked out by Javoy Belnavis inside the six yard box, but the striker hacked his effort wide.
JC kept missing easy chances and Brown was particularly wasteful on two separate occasions. First he missed an open header at the back post from a corner kick, before kicking straight at Chambers when face to face inside the area. He was substituted shortly after.
Substitute Orlando Brown was also denied by a brilliant double save from Chambers, who produced a man of the match performance to keep the score line respectable for his team.
The last of the easy chances fell to another substitute, Payge Sinclair, whose tame header from a Brown cross was nothing more than catching practise for Chambers.
The final whistle brought an end to the season for St. Jago High but signalled the advancement of the defending champions JC, who are now just one win away from a place in the 2016 final, as their quest continues for a fourth straight title.
JC assistant coach Donald Stewart said, "With the conditions, we had to change our game plans. As you can see we went more direct to the strikers. Not a lot of time was spent keeping the ball around the back. We played more direct to the strikers and then we played from there."
When quizzed as to whether it matters who they play in the semifinals Stewart said, "Not at all, because whoever comes we have to go out there and play all the time, so it doesn't matter who is the opponent."
St. Jago coach, Glen Laing was proud of his troops despite the loss. "I think they were more relaxed knowing that they were just going out there to play a game, if they won it wouldn't mean anything. But they really come out and showed me that they have it in them to really do better. So for those who are staying, we hope that they pay attention to their school work and then next year we can be a much better team."
JC will know their semi-final opponents on Thursday, when the last of the quarter final games are played.