Group F runaway leaders in the ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup competition, Holy Trinity High, dropped their first points of the season when they were held to a 1-1 draw by St. Jago High at the Bell/Chung Oval in a key match for the boys from Monk Street on Tuesday.
Both goals came in the second half of a match that delivered less than it promised. Substitute Nicholas Thomas gave the home team the lead in the 67th minute and the Devon Anderson coached boys seemed home and dry until Andre Thomas responded for the visitors in the 88th minute to snatch a point at the death.
Holy Trinity started the game on the front foot and the aggressive Phillon Lawrence forced the St. Jago custodian Diandre Burrell into a smart save at his near post, with a snap shot from just inside the area.
Lawrence was at it again a few minutes later, getting off a rasping drive that went just over the top after a quick Holy Trinity counterattack.
The home team kept pressing as their captain Dante Green pulled the strings in midfield, but Thomas did his best to spur on the overmatched St. Jago midfield. Kirk Samuda, St. Jago’s leading striker, tried his luck from distance but it was always rising and failed to trouble Antonio Millington in the Holy Trinity goal.
A long ball over the top from Samuda released Shaquille Wright who tried to lob the advancing Millington, but his effort went wide of the target.
St. Jago could not keep Lawrence out of the game and he sent his marker the wrong way inside the box, before firing a shot against the base of the upright, as Holy Trinity threatened once more, to break the deadlock.
Wright almost sneaked in one at the near post after a melee but Millington was vigilant and effected a good save to keep the scores level at 0-0.
Shai Smith who had constantly given the St. Jago defenders a hard time had the last chance of the half and after getting by two defenders expertly in the box was unable to get a shot on target.
Smith picked up where he left off in the second half but was unable to convert from back to back chances as his shots on target came from his weaker right foot on both occasions, which proved easy for Burrell to handle.
Thomas had watched from the bench as his teammates missed numerous chances, but would prove to be lethal moments after entering the fray, as his fierce drive from 20 yards rocketed passed Burrell and into the back of the net to the delight of the home fans.
Samuda kept fighting, willing his teammates on to get something out of the game but they failed to really challenge the Holy Trinity defence.
Holy Trinity appeared to be cruising to their seventh straight win of the season, when in a moment of madness Raheem Francis handled the ball in the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Thomas fired low to the left of Millington to score the first goal against Holy Trinity since they last conceded in their second game of the season.
Holy Trinity captain Fabrizzo Burton almost had the last say in the contest but his free kick from just outside the area landed on top of the crossbar and went outside for a goal kick.
Devon Anderson lamented the poor performance of his strikers in the first half.
“The first half was very poor, we didn’t execute any at all. We played to the game plan and created the chances but faulty finishing resulted in the half ending nil-all.”
With the group all but won, Anderson is now looking to the fast approaching knockout round.
“Every game is a different squad I put out there trying to rotate the players as best as possible knowing that the games are coming fast and furious.
Davion Ferguson thought his team deserved to get something from the game.
“Two teams advance directly from the group and we have to ensure that we are the second team. We left it a little bit too late. We showed this Holy Trinity team a little too much respect and I think the result in the first game actually played on their mind. Overall I think a draw was a fair result in the end.”
Both teams will next play on Thursday with St. Jago playing away top Jose Marti while Holy Trinity will host Clan Carthy.