Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) came from behind to retain the ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel Ben Francis KO Cup in a penalty shoot-out victory over Grange Hill High at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in Catherine Hall, St James, yesterday.
STETHS came from two goals down inside the first 20 minutes to level the score at 2-2 and send the match into extra time and penalties. They won 4-2 in the shoot-out to become the first school to win three consecutive Ben Francis KO titles.
Grange Hill took a shock lead when Norman Malcolm scored in the fourth minute. Malcolm then sent them further ahead in the 15th minute when he beat the STETHS goalkeeper with a grounder from inside the six-yard box.
The defending champions responded well by taking control of the rest of the first half. Leading scorer Khesanio Hall should have pulled a goal back midway the half but his shot went wide of Omario Hendricks in the Grange Hill goal.
In the second half, STETHS coach Omar Wedderburn made a number of tactical changes and his team responded.
Four minutes inside the half they pulled a goal back. In the 49th minute, a pass from deep in midfield found Jamel Sinclair and he buried his shot in the back of the net. In the 76th minute, Sinclair was again on target when he beat Hendricks at his far post.
"We are champions because we did what was important on the day. After conceding two early goals, we made some adjustments in the second half and that turned the game around for us," Wedderburn said.
"The plan was to sit deep in defence and allow them space in front of us and to exploit that space but it never worked as we wanted and they scored. But once we managed to score we knew it was all over," Wedderburn reasoned.
Defeated but not disgraced, Grange Hill coach Dane Warren said his players lost focus after the second goal and failed to implement the game plan.
'We are champions because we did what was important on the day. After conceding two early goals, we made some adjustments in the second half and that turned the game around for us.'