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St.Jago march into the Walker Cup semi-finals

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Walker Cup,St. Jago,Kingston College,

A smartly taken second half penalty by Ryan Smart after a beautifully worked team move that opened up space for Shaqon Bryan to score from the top of the box, seven minutes into the first half were enough to secure a 2-0 win for St. Jago over Kingston College in the quarter-finals of the Walker Cup.

Despite promising much, in reality it was something of a non-contest – with Akeem Chambers the St. Jago custodian a spectator throughout the majority of the game before being substituted.

Kingston College were flat and lethargic, St. Jago energetic and dynamic and the sides were poles apart on the day. It was only the first time since the season started that KC fell behind and they had no response to the 'schoolboy Reggae Boyz' as they were dubbed by the spectators, merely because they were attired in yellow Reggae Boyz Kappa shorts and stockings with green tops, mirroring the Jamaican national team.

The opening exchanges were all St. Jago. Yonnick Elliot, Shaqon Bryan and Ryan Smart ran rings around Jahzeel Thompson and Javian Brown who didn't offer much in defense. St Jago, who qualified as the second-best-placed team, gave a first class performance and some neat exchanges found Smart who unleashed a cracker to the right of Akim Larmond who went full stretch but was unable to stop the ball from kissing the back of the net.

Three minutes after going ahead Kristoff Mendez burst down the right flank leaving Nicardo Hanchard and company in his wake and whipped in a well weighted cross to Smart but his poor effort skimmed over the bar.

The St. Jago team seemed like a well oiled machine and obviously the hungrier of the two, winning the ball first and putting more passes together. In the 19th minute of play the 'North Street Boys' were caught flat-footed, Bryan broke free, weaved his way inside, with a couple of step-overs to bamboozle his opponents much to the delight of the crowd, then made a sublime pass to Christon Blair who scuffed his shot wide of the upright.

The Kingston College team still could not find their footing in the game in wet and slippery conditions, however, it wasn't until the 30th minute when Richard Byfield found a bit of space and tested Chambers. The traveling supporters started cheering the KC aggregation, a bit of self belief kicked in and it took a brilliant effort from defender Show-D Thompson who was on a yellow card who put his body in the line of fire to prevent Byfield from leveling things up in minute 33. The star of KC and leading scorer Rashawn Mackison showed his class by shrugging off his two defenders and set up a chance for Hanchard but the shot from the midfielder whistled over the top in minute 36.

The half ended with the team from Monk Street heading in the dressing room with a one goal advantage.

Kingston college picked up were they left off in the second half but apparently they left their shooting boots in the dressing room. After some dismal shooting in front of goal they were punished even further by conceding a penalty via a hand ball in the box. Ryan Smart converted in the 77th minute. The North Street boys who proudly wears the KC crest on the chest that bears their motto saying ' THE BRAVE MAY FALL BUT NEVER YIELD' decided to have a last go at the Spanish Town based team, their best effort in the second half came in the 80th minute when Ericardo McNish powered past the defender in the box and was brought down but the referee turned a blind eye to the penalty shout. With less than ten minutes to go and a 2-0 cushion St. Jago smartly got behind the ball to ensure they walked away victors.

St Jago Coach Glen Laing said the plan was to try and unsettle KC early, and it worked perfectly.

"The plan was to get at them early because we noticed that KC scored a couple of goals early in their games, so we were hoping to score early, get the team unsettled and take it from there," said Laing.

Ludlow Bernard, the KC coach, said he didn't want to make excuses, but said his team had nowhere to warm-up before the game and is of the view that his team paid the price for starting slowly. "We will have to find the right formula to get us prepared for the games," he noted.

St. Jago will face defending champions St. Georges College in the first semi-final on Wednesday starting at 1:00 pm at the Constant Spring field.