Lenn ON

... Win Ben Fran­cis ti­tle af­ter out­last­ing STETHS

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORT - Paul Clarke Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU: LEN­NON HIGH School’s long wait for a school­boy foot­ball ti­tle is over. The Mo­cho-based in­sti­tu­tion, spurred on by their su­perb goal­keeper, Ty­rone Mullings, sur­prised St El­iz­a­beth Tech­ni­cal 4-2 in a penalty shootout for an his­toric lien on the ISSA/FLOW Ben Fran­cis KO ti­tle, af­ter ended reg­u­la­tion and ex­tra time locked at 1-1 at Manch­ester High.

Tavis Grant gave Len­non a de­served lead in the 16th minute with a tor­rid strike that caught the STETHS cus­to­dian Ken­roy Wal­lace off guard. He had lit­tle time to re­act, as the ball can­noned off the un­der­side of the cross bar and over the line for a 1-0.

It took STETHS the en­tire sec­ond half to find the equaliser, again com­ing late in an im­por­tant match, when Demar James headed home from close range in the 93rd minute, send­ing the match into ex­tra time.

“This is huge; this is ev­ery­thing to the school and the Len­non com­mu­nity. There will be mas­sive cel­e­bra­tions come Mon­day,” said Len­non head coach Mer­ron Gor­don.

Huge it was, as STETHS, who would have made it sev­en­straight knock­out ti­tles had they won it, wilted in the shootout, with Alex Thomp­son and the usu­ally de­pend­able Chris-An­drew Dixon miss­ing badly. Ni­cholas Gayle and cen­tral de­fender Clifton Wood­bine scored STETHS’ first two kicks from the spot.

WILD CEL­E­BRA­TION

Tavis Grant, Christo­pher Ran­dall, Kwesi Watts and Ja­son John­son all scored for Len­non and when Dixon missed, send­ing his kick high over the cross­bar, it was time

for the mas­sive Len­non sup­port to storm the field in wild cel­e­bra­tion.

It was the sec­ond suc­ces­sive match that STETHS have taken to penalty kicks, af­ter their thrilling con­test in the semi­fi­nal against Claren­don, which was de­cided on sud­den death penalty kicks.

But Len­non, starved of a school­boy ti­tle and hav­ing come close on a few oc­ca­sion, were de­ter­mined not to let this one slip and when they grabbed the early lead, out­play­ing STETHS in mid­field, it seemed they were well on their way.

STETHS re­sponded as they nor­mally do, with Dixon the driv­ing force once again. The mid­fielder found James on the flank and the for­ward drifted in­side and un­leashed a wicked shot but found Mullings too good to beat.

The Len­non keeper was at full-stretch to palm the ball over the cross­bar in acro­batic fash­ion to deny James.

As fate would have it, Mullings could do noth­ing about the re­sult­ing corner kick, and James found just enough space to nod home.

Dethroned af­ter six-suc­ces­sive lien on the Ben Fran­cis

knock­out crown, STETHS will now turn their at­ten­tion to the de­fense of their daCosta Cup ti­tle, ac­cord­ing to tech­ni­cal direc­tor Wen­dell Down­swell, af­ter the dis­ap­point­ing loss.

“We are dis­ap­pointed, but it was a beau­ti­ful game. Len­non re­ally ran at us, and while we re­sponded with that late goal, it’s al­ways a lot­tery when it comes to a penalty shootout,” said Down­swell.

“We will be ready for them again in the daCosta Cup semi­fi­nal. We want our re­venge for this de­feat, but con­grat­u­la­tions to them for a great game,” he added.

PAUL CLARKE PHOTO

STETHS’ Ru­jay Robin­son (left) and team­mate Tah­jae Green, chal­lenge Len­non for­ward Odane Grant in their ISSA/FLOW Ben Fran­cis KO fi­nal yes­ter­day at Manch­ester High. Len­non dethroned STETHS 4-2 on penal­ties, to lift their first ever school­boy foot­ball crown.

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