Photo: Wolmers' coach Vassel Reynolds (left) and Ludlow Bernard will match wits in the quarter final of the Walker Cup at the Constant Spring Field at 3:00pm on Friday.
Two of the most impressive first round Manning Cup teams this season, Wolmers’ Boys and Kingston College, will do battle on Friday in what is expected to be a cracking ISSA/FLOW Walker Cup quarter final at the Constant Spring Field starting at 3:00pm.
Wolmers’ were imperious in Group F in the Manning Cup winning all their games, scoring 36 goals, while conceding only once. The team is being coached by Vassel Reynolds who guided them to victory in the Walker Cup last season, a year after Ludlow Bernard, who now coaches Kingston College, achieved the same feat for the Heroes Circle based school.
For their part, Kingston College has also been unbeaten this season, their only blemish being a 0-0 draw with Denham Town High at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex. The famed ‘Purples’ has been impressive in front of goal, scoring a massive 53 goals to date, with their leading goal scorer Rashwan Mackison bagging a mind blowing 19 goals so far. They too, have conceded only once so far this season.
While both teams have been banging in the goals, neither defence has been truly tested so far. That is expected to change on Friday and the question on the minds of both sets of fans is, which defence will crack under the pressure?
Jahwahni Hinds has been a rock at the back for Wolmers since last season and his experience has proven invaluable in their perfect season so far this term. Andrew Daley loves having the ball at his feet and his range of passing and impressive ball distribution from central midfield has led to numerous opportunities being created for the likes of Alphanso Gooden, Rivaldo English and Yonnick Elliott.
Mickel Graham is a tricky customer with an eye for goal and is capable of creating his own goal scoring opportunities. Shamar Jemison was crucial to the Wolmers’ victory last season, coming up with some critical saves during penalty shootouts during every round of the Walker Cup, including the final against St. Georges College.
Gooden, who came off the bench to have a major impact in the final last year, has led the line for the Marron and Gold with nine goals and his strength and pace are major assets. The balance in the Wolmers’ team makes them hard to break down and they will be confident of victory against Kingston College.
The boys from North Street are no pushovers however and the anticipation of winning silverware this season is very high. There has been a dearth of trophies at the school for the last 15 years which makes the desire to see the team do well even more fierce among the KC faithful.
Captain Javain Brown and Davian Shakes have formed a great partnership at the centre of defence, while Fabian Grant and Nathan Thomas have provided great cover for the entire back four all season. Mackison along with the wily Trayvone Reid have both made goal scoring look easy and the Wolmers defenders will have their hands full trying to contain those two.
Renato Campbell has returned from international duty with the Jamaica Under-17 team and has worked his way back into the KC starting eleven and has already contributed in the goal scoring department. Ludlow Bernard will be spoilt for choices as he tries to pick the perfect eleven that will match up best with the Wolmers’ team.
While most people will point to the number of goals KC has scored in the Manning Cup, true football fans who have seen them play have been more impressed with how they move the ball around on the better surfaces of the Stadium East field and the National Stadium pitch. The Constant Spring field is not of the same quality but should facilitate their passing game.
Both teams are fairly evenly matched and the winner will most likely be the team that holds their nerves under what is expected to be immense pressure. With five changes now available, both coaches will go to their benches and the strength in depth in that department could be the difference maker.
The numbers supporting KC has grown with each win this season and bumper crowd is expected at Constant Spring.
The curtain raiser at 1:00pm sees Denham Town, Group C runners-up and the only team to stop KC from scoring go up against Group G winners Bridgeport High. Both teams have almost identical goal scoring records, Denham Town 18-4 to Bridgeport’s 18-5. Coaching may make the difference in this contest as well.