Photo: Kimani Decombre of Excelsior High makes a last ditch tackle to deny Akeem Robotham of St. Georges College in the ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup on Wednesday. The game ended 2-2 which means Excelsior tops the group and advances to the Walker Cup and the Super Cup for which St. Georges College were the defending champions.
Defending ISSA/FLOW Super Cup champions St. Georges College, will have to watch this year’s staging from the side lines after their chances of advancing to the lucrative competition were ended following an exciting 2-2 draw with Excelsior High at the Stadium East Field on Wednesday.
The game which was being continued at the 2-1 scoreline after being abandoned at half time following the death of former St. Georges College captain Dominic James just over two weeks ago, attracted a large number of spectators, mostly from the Mountain View Avenue based Excelsior High school.
Excelsior went into the game with just 45 minutes to defend their lead to claim group honours plus a place in the two knock out competitions, the Walker Cup and the Super Cup.
Excelsior got the better of the first few minutes, before St. Georges College woke up and started to chase the game.
Abandoning their usual passing game, the Sky Blues went “hell for leather”, playing direct balls in to centre forward and captain Alex Marshall. This strategy worked as it pushed back the hosts who had to put up a solid rear guard action to keep out Marshall and company.
Marshall had the ball in the back of the net in the 49th minute but was correctly ruled offside. The fans were still reacting to the decision when Kimani Decombre brought out a good save out of John Wilson who had to dive to his left to push the ball behind for a corner kick and keep STGC in the game.
Hakim Williams of STGC saw his shot from inside the box headed off the line by Alique Skerritt and moments later Wilson saw a free kick wiz over the top of his crossbar after it was well struck by Decombre from the edge of the “D”.
The action was fast and furious as both teams went in search of a goal.
Throne Buchanan had a chance to put the game beyond STGC but he miskicked from inside the six yard box with the goalkeeper at his mercy.
Then in the 71st minute Marshall scored the goal his team so desperately needed. Shrugging off the challenge of his marker the way only he can; the left footed player created a yard of space for himself, before expertly guiding the ball into the corner of the net, making it 2-2.
Marshall who was giving it everything he had, saw a goal bound effort deflected behind for a corner by Chavoy Malcolm just moments after he had scored.
With less than ten minutes left in the match, Buchanan had another great chance for Excelsior but inexplicable shot straight at the goalkeeper from 10 yards.
An uncharacteristic mistake from Malcolm let in STGC and the lively Akeem Robotham passed to Marshall just inside the area, but the striker fired into the side netting from an acute angle from exactly six yards.
Another glorious chance fell the way of STGC, this time to Akiki Jackson but the tall striker, who had run his socks off for his team, shot straight at the legs of Romario Palma in the Excelsior goal.
It was the last opportunity of the game for the Bertis Bell coached team, most of whom were completely spent at the final whistle.
“St. Georges is a very good team, don’t forget this, the history that goes with the school and the team speaks for itself, we knew that they were going to come and throw everything at us. We tried to contain (them). They got one goal but as you can see we got our chances also, we just never converted and that is a part of the thing we will work on,” said Excelsior coach Shavar Thomas.
“We were cautious at the start because we didn’t want to give up an early goal. We got the tying goal and we got opportunities to get the go ahead goal but Excelsior had a couple of opportunities too. We did what we had to do, I think we did everything right except putting more balls in the net but that is football, that is just something you have to live with,” said Bertis Bell.
“My concern (before the game) was how we would react to coming back here for the first time and we worked out a little plan…we miss Dominic but we have a squad of youngsters who my job is to ensure that they are alright and happy again and ensure that they enjoy playing the game again. We had a couple of clear cut chance where we could have won this game but I think Excelsior had one or two (chances) where they could have won the game.
“We wanted to win, we are disappointed we didn’t win, we are disappointed that we never made the Super Cup but we came here with an opportunity to win four titles, we leave here with an opportunity to win two, we can still win the Manning Cup, we can still win the Olivier Shield,” he concluded.
By topping the group Excelsior has advanced to the Walker Cup quarter finals where they will play Haile Selassie High at 1:00pm on Saturday at the Constant Spring Field.