Mona, KC into Manning Cup semis as pre-season favourites STATHS miss out

By November 10, 2023
Mona's Head coach Craig Butler (left) and Vassell Reynolds of Kingston College. Mona's Head coach Craig Butler (left) and Vassell Reynolds of Kingston College.

Mona High continued their charge towards a maiden ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup title, as they secured a spot in the semi-final, following a 2-0 win over pre-season favourites St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) in their decisive Group One quarterfinals fixture at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Friday.

First half goals from Robino Gordon (7th) and Denzel McKenzie (21st), proved enough to send the Craig Butler-coached Mona into another semi-final for a second year consecutively, as well as into the All-island Champions Cup.

For Phillip Williams and his STATHS outfit, it was the worst time to produce a flat performance, and they miss out on the semi-final for the first time in six years, as a result.

Elsewhere in the, St Catherine High edged Kingston College 2-1 at the Spanish Town Prison Oval, but just missed out on a spot in the final four by virtue of a slightly inferior goal difference.

The results saw Mona finishing at the summit on five points, with Kingston College second on four points, same as St Catherine, while STATHS ended at foot on three points.

Butler beamed about Mona’s achievement as they enter the decisive end of the season with their unbeaten record intact.

“I am very proud of my team and very proud of my coaching staff. The players played hard, they stuck to the task, we took “Whispers” [Dujuan Richards] advice and it worked out. He [Richards] came out and helped us a lot especially with the changes and the tactics and the boys were disciplined,” Butler said.

Mona High started more purposeful and broke the deadlock in the seventh minute when McKenzie’s freekick was deftly flicked on by Gordon at the near post for his 14th of the season.

With STATHS looking flat and disjointed, particularly in the midfield, Mona were able to maintain their intensity and they used it to good effect to apply consistent pressure.

The lead was doubled when Romarion Thomas rounded the well-advanced Jaheem Williams, in goal for STATHS, and played a pass off to McKenzie, who calmly slotted into an empty net for his 10th of the season.

Mona should have added another on the stroke of half-time when McKenzie was felled inside the danger area by JLoyd Smith. McKenzie sporting the number 10 jersey picked up himself to take the 12-yard kick, but Williams guessed right, diving to his weaker left side, to keep out the effort.

The second half offered very little to write home about, though STATHS gradually improved in terms of their attacking thrust. They created a few half chances in an attempt to claw their way back into the contest, but were unable to make it count, even after Mona Carlton Brown to a second yellow card.

For Williams, it’s about picking up the pieces of another failed Manning Cup campaign to break a lengthy title drought dating back to 1987, with the focus now on possibly winning the consolation Walker Cup knockout title.

“The goals came off two mistakes but definitely Mona was the better team, and we have to give credit to them for putting in a full 90 minutes and keep us off the scoring sheet. It was very concerning, we did create chances but we didn’t put them away and so it is just about taking a break for a while and just recoup to come again next year,” he shared.

Friday’s results

Mona 2, STATHS 0

St Catherine 2, Kingston College 1

Saturday’s fixtures

3:00pm: Jamaica College vs St George’s College @Ashenheim Stadium

3:00pm: Hydel High vs Tivoli High @ Prison Oval

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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