Photo: Aqueam Campbell of Kingston College makes a crunching tackle on Neil Campbell of Jose Marti during their Manning Cup clash at the Stadium East field on Friday. The game ended 1-1 as Kingston College dropped their first points of the season.
A dogged second half performance by Jose Marti High school saw them fight back from a goal down to earn a vital point against Kingston College in Group G action of the ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup competition on Friday. The 1-1 draw saw the five game win streak of KC come to a halt and now sets up nicely, the final few games of the round as the Purples and Camperdown, currently second in the group, chase the top spot for a place in the coveted Super Cup knock out competition.
Jose Marti started the game quickly and took advantage of a lethargic open by the home team, forcing a desperate goal line clearance in the opening minutes of the match.
But the visitors were unable to maintain their momentum and KC slowly worked their way into the game mainly through the efforts of midfield trio Rashawn McKinson, Nickardo Hanchard and Aqueam Campbell.
Campbell was the first to get a shot towards goal for KC and Hanchard also tried his luck moments later. A brilliant cross field pass from McKinson to Richard Byfield on the right flank was trapped immaculately by the forward but his shot, under pressure, went into the side netting. The previously quiet partisan crowd found their voices as KC took full control of the game.
Javain Brown brought out a diving save from Shakkure Smith when his free kick from 22 yards curled dangerously toward the top corner of the goal.
KC continued to pile on the pressure and another sweeping cross field pass, this time from Hanchard found Byfield on the right flank again, but a last ditch challenge from left back Ricardo Thomas denied Byfield a strike on target.
But KC was not to be denied and it was the combination of Hanchard and McKinson that brought about the game’s first goal. A right sided corner kick from Hanchard was met with a firm header at the back post by McKinson and flew past Smith who had no chance.
The Ludlow Bernard coached boys had two more chances to score before the interval, Hanchard picked out McKinson with a delicate pass inside the box but the strike from McKinson was tame and straight at Smith. Then on the stroke of half time Jahmal Pusey was played in by Hanchard but hesitated with the goal gaping and lost the chance for a shot as the Jose Marti defenders recovered.
KC started the second half just as slowly as the first and seemed to play as though they thought the game was already won. Jose Marti took full advantage of their profligacy and took control of the game, doing most of the running in midfield but failing to create any openings.
It was an uncharacteristic mistake by the KC defence that had not conceded a goal since the opening day against Camperdown, that let in Jose Marti. Rudolph Anderson gave away the ball near the edge of the box to Khalfone Richards and the tall striker took a touch before firing past Trevaughn Brown to make it 1-1 with just under 30 minutes left to play.
The goal seemed to wake up the KC team but they were unable to reach the standards of the first half in terms of possession and play as the Jose Marti defenders made themselves difficult to break down.
Second half substitute Ericardo McNish did a lot of work down the right hand side but was unable to deliver the telling cross into the box for KC.
Five minutes before time Shakeel Gobon’s curling shot went inches wide of the KC upright as everyone left the Jose Marti bench thinking the ball had gone in.
But KC came closer to winning the game when a 23 yards free kick from McKinson crashed against the crossbar in the second minute of stoppage time.
Some of the KC players sank to their knees at the sound of the final whistle, showing just how much it meant to them to be dropping points for the first time this season.
Bernard was philosophical in his assessment of the KC performance.
“The finishing let us down and as fate would have it they punished us for it but it is a good learning experience for the players. We will always say we need to convert the chances but probably if we were a little more tighter in defence probably they would not have got a chance to score.”
While bemoaning the unusual defensive lapse by his team, Bernard hinted at going to his bench as the group stage winds down.
“Usually we are very reliable at the back of the park. Unfortunately on one occasion we weren’t so lucky but we are still unbeaten and we are still looking forward to the remaining two games in the round and we are still looking to maximizing the points available. Right now is the time when the replacement players will have to come into focus.” he concluded.
Calvert Fitzgerald was delighted to get a point from the game.
“I thought we definitely needed to get something out of this match so in the half time interval I really got stuck into them because I don’t think they were playing up to potential. They really came out and responded to the urging and encouragement and hence we got back a goal and could have gotten all three points, but I am thankful for the one.”
Displaying a wise head on young shoulders, McKinson said it would be back to the drawing board for KC.
“We just stay focused, we go back to the drawing board next time try to take our chances. We have to continue working hard and listen to our coaches instructions and fight to the end,” he said of his team’s performance and the rest of the first round.
An elated Richards who had an over the top celebration after scoring against KC was especially pleased to have scored against the boys from North Street.
“I feel very wonderful because I always hear about Kingston College so I come out and put in the hard work…so I feel very happy about myself and my team,”
KC continues to lead the zone with 16 points from six games played.