... Win Ben Francis title after outlasting STETHS
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.
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.
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.