GIOVANNI Green’s extra-time goal piloted Hydel High into their first ISSA/Gatorate/Digicel Manning Cup final after a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over seven-time winners Excelsior High in yesterday’s semi-final at the National Stadium. Green scored in the 108th minute to separate the teams after the scores were locked at 1-1 at the end of normal time.


Kareem Banton had given the Leebert Halliman-coached Excelsior a deserved lead in the first minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half, but Gah-seani Wray drilled home from close range in the 56th minute to level the scores.

Hydel will face title-holders St George’s in Saturday’s final at the National Stadium in a replay of this season’s opener.

Hydel’s coach Geoffrey Maxwell, who guided Excelsior to the title in 1980, told the Jamaica Observer that despite the closely-fought encounter, his team was better on the day.

“It was a tight encounter from the start and I think both teams gave their all. We played technical football and I expected Excelsior to come with a direct approach. I think technically we were the better team, but I’m not taking anything away from Excelsior.

“It is good that we are into the final, but I’m not too concerned about it being historic,” Maxwell said.

Halliman, the coach of Hydel during last season’s milestone run to the second round, credited the Excelsior outfit for its performance in what was at times a dull encounter.

“I can’t complain too much with how we looked. I’m happy with how they played today (yesterday). We made some mistakes and in this competition that can cause problems. Once the game reached extra-time we knew the danger that could bring,” said a disappointed- looking Halliman.

The Excelsior team, well-led by towering captain and central midifelder Ojai Bedward, had the early advantage and pegged back Hydel, who appeared a shadow of the smooth-passing side many saw earlier in the season.

Three minutes before the break, the 2004 champions nearly took the lead when Brian Richards drove forward and forced Hydel’s goalkeeper Romaine Hamilton to tip a 20-yard effort over the crossbar.

The resultant corner kick was then headed onto the bar by the hardworking Richards.

The pressure, however, told just before the half-time interval when Banton’s long range left-footed shot wrong-footed Hamilton and found the back of the net.

Hydel’s Tajah Small and Green came close on a few occasions to unlock the Excelsior defence, but the Mountain View Avenue-based school kept them at bay until 11 minutes into the second period.

The Excelsior defenders failed to clear an innocuous-looking cross and watched in dismay as Wray came on the far post to boot home.

The game went into extra time and though Excelsior appeared the more ambitious in attack, they were caught out two minutes before the end when goalkeeper Ryan Jackson was beaten to a cross by Green, who headed Hydel into the championship showpiece.

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