Johnson's heroics hand Sandals mid-season title
Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:Joel Johnson, the Sandals Whitehouse FC substitute goalkeeper, was called upon for one thing only - to save as many penalties as possible. This he did in dramatic fashion to lead his team to a thrilling 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over Savannah SC in yesterday's final of the Charley's J.B. Rum Western Confederation Super League at Frome Sports Complex.
Nothing could separate the teams after a 1-1 full-time scoreline, and it remained the same after an additional 30 minutes of extra time.
André Vassell's glancing header gave Sandals the lead in the 44th minute, but just after the half-time break, Savannah struck. A wonderfully crafted moved ended in celebration at the 46th minute, when the dangerous Ron Daley guided his delicate header past starting keeper O'Brian Vender for Sandals.
Delroy Davis, Vassell, Dervin Campbell, and Jerome Bond all scored from the spot for Savannah, allowing Johnson to work his magic by stopping kicks from Michael Kerr, Leroy Taylor and Carlyle Henry.
Savannah had the better of play from the onset and missed countless opportunities to score. They should have taken the lead in the 17th minute, but a comedy of errors conspired to keep Daley and O'Neil Blair from scoring.
However, it was Sandals who grabbed the lead. Off a right-sided corner kick, Vassell was left alone, and he connected with a glancing header, and the ball flew into the goal.
Savannah's response from Daley came right after the break, and the teams fought all afternoon until they were separated by penalties.
"We told him to do his thing because we know he is a really good shot stopper. He did the job well, and thanks to him, we are the mid-season champions," said Sandals Whitehouse coach Aaron Lawrence.
"It was a difficult game in parts, but we held our nerves when it mattered most to get the win. I am very happy for my players," added Lawrence.