This week’s featured game was a well-anticipated Manning Cup clash between defending champions, Jamaica College, and former champions Bridgeport High School. The match lived up to its billing as the two teams, especially host Bridgeport caused a large number of supporters to converge upon the Dunbeholden sports complex in St. Catherine; many of whom were thoroughly entertained by a fierce and tense battle, especially in midfield as both teams were at it hammer and tongs throughout most of the match.

The waterlogged sections of the field provided comedies of errors galore as both teams, in efforts to maintain their footing, shoot or clear their lines, wound up with loads of miskicks and slips; providing patrons with a belly full of laughter.

It was the Reds (Bridgeport) who drew first blood deep into the first half, when Kyle Ming, drove his head into the ball from a fiercely struck, but low flight cross from a corner kick. The entire JC defense was totally bamboozled by both the cross and the header.
The goal also came at a time in the game when Bridgeport was largely dominant in possession as they pressed very hard to disrupt JC’s early composed approach. The guests were just not allowed to settle, as they appeared to have liked. The first half, therefore, ended with Bridgeport leading 1-0.

At the sound of the whistle indicating the second half, Jamaica College grabbed the game by the scruff of its neck and dictated the flow of the game as they picked up the pace and literally stamped their possessive class on the ball and ball game. Bridgeport to some degree allowed this though as they appeared to employ the “park-the-bus” tactic, booting away almost every ball that met their laces. They even appeared to deliberately waste time very early in the second half as if to say “we’re just going to defend this one-goal lead.” ”.

The Blues took this as an invitation to pour incessant pressure on Bridgeport. Constantly pushing the host unto their back foot and causing many errors which were already made conducive due to the muddy conditions in front of their goal, but Bridgeport’s defense stood firm and held off the advances of JC for almost the entire second half.

JC continued to up the ante, and pile on more and more pressure unto a tiring Bridgeport defense. The hosts suddenly made a clearance unleashing the speedy number 13 nicknamed, “Tuffy”, who singlehandedly counterattacked JC’s flat-footed defense. As he was about to go 1v1 with the goalie, JC’s defender Tyrese Lock, came out of absolutely nowhere, like a ghost emerging from the fog with a timely lounge, defusing the counterattack. The Bridgeport contingent made a chorus of appeals claiming a penalty which was nonchalantly waved off by the woman in charge (referee) to the disgust of Bridgeport supporters who protested angrily on the flanks and all over the ground.

JC recovered the ball and immediately sent a long ball forward to Norman Campbell, who no sooner than he cleverly toed it into the box was brought down by desperate and recklessly time tackle by the Bridgeport captain, Kyle Ming.
The referee pointed to the spot as JC players breathed huge sighs of relief; hugging each other and clenching their fists as if they were already claiming the gift of “ no defeat”. Fortunately for them, the reliable Tyreek McGee stepped up and capitalized from the spot, which handed JC the equalizer, and a 1 all draw, literally snatching his team from the jaws of defeat and a broken streak. A four-year undefeated streak, which obviously began in 2013.

In other Corporate matches, Wolmer’s trounced Kingston High 5-0; Tivoli invaded hosts Innswood defeating them 0-4; Papine were displaced by Staths 1-4; Donald Quarrie were outscored 2-3 by Mona; KC humiliated Norman Manley 12-0; Excelsior and Greater Portmore played to a 1 all draw; Spanish Town pipped hosts Ardenne 1-2; Charlie Smith hammered Campion 6-2; Eltham blanked Johnathan Grant 0-3; and Calabar ran away with a 5-2 victory over Cedar Grove.

Alex Bent
Article by Alex Bent