Here we go again! - STATHS, JC set to meet in repeat of 2017 Manning Cup final
St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) and Jamaica College (JC) booked their place in the final of the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup following semi-final penalty-kick wins over Wolmer’s Boys and Kingston College, respectively, at the National Stadium yesterday.
In the opening encounter, STATHS defeated Wolmer’s 4-2 on penalties, this after the teams had played to a 1-1 scoreline in full time.
The second semi-final saw Jamaica College getting the better of Kingston College 5-4 on penalties after the teams could not find a goal in regular time.
STATHS, who won their only Manning Cup title in 1987, were booking their second final in three years, however, it wasn’t an easy run for the Philip Williams-coached team.
They went in front in the 10th minute when Steven McQueen headed in a right-sided short corner from close range. Five minutes later, Wolmer’s would chalk up the equaliser as Orlando Russell capitalised on a through pass and outfoxed his defender to slot past goalkeeper Ricardo Laing in the STATHS goal.
The teams could not find the winner in full time, and it was left to the dreaded penalty shoot-out to determine a winner.
STATHS were the team that blinked first as Noel Walker missed his effort, but the Wolmer’s pair of Revaldo Mitchell and Rushane Mitchell also failed to score, allowing the team from Bumper Hall to book their spot in the final to the delight of coach Philip Williams.
“It was a very good game. Wolmer’s did their homework and nullified our front three, but we practised a lot of penalties in training yesterday because we know that is one of the eventualities of the game, and our boys held their nerve and came up trumps today,” said Williams, who will be looking to, this time, guide his team past JC after falling to the ‘Dark Blues’ in the 2017 final.
Losing coach Alex Thomas credited his team’s fighting spirit throughout the game.
“Praises most go out to my boys. They played their hearts out. It’s unfortunate that we came out on the wrong end of the penalties, but such is football,” said Thomas.
The second semi-final was less dramatic as the teams nullified each other’s attacks. The defensive duel continued for the majority of the encounter, however, some excellent goalkeeping by JC’s custodian, Daniel Russell, denied KC’s attacking trio of Jamari Morrison, Ronaldo Robinson, and Dwayne Atkinson.
The game did see some drama as KC’s Khalifah Richards was caught on camera biting JC’s Shadane Lopez, who retaliated by slapping Richards in the face, in an incident that was missed by the officiating crew.
With time running out and penalties looming, both teams substituted their starting goalkeepers.
However, it was Jamari Morrison, who would have the only blemish on the night as his first kick went sailing over the post to the delight of the JC supporters.
Tajay Grant would be the man who would send the 29-time champion into the final as he calmly slotted past Hasani Barnes in the KC goal.
Winning coach Davion Ferguson, who was in his first season on the JC bench, was pleased with his team’s achievements.
“I must lift my hats off to my boys. It was a very tactical game. We saw KC over the weekend, and we know they are a counter-attacking team. What we did today was limit those attacks, and it paid off for us,” said Ferguson.
KC’s Ludlow Bernard praised his team’s effort.
“It’s mixed emotions for me right now. I think we had a good season. Unfortunately, it came to an end by penalties, but we will be back,” said Bernard.
Both teams will meet on Friday, November 29, at the National Stadium.