SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — The venue was different, but the result was the same as St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) repeated their ISSA/LIME Ben Francis Knockout victory over Manchester High, winning 2-0 to extend their record for consecutive titles to four.
Two years ago STETHS beat Manchester 2-1 in Montego Bay for what was their second hold on the trophy, and they extended their winning streak over the Sheldon Davis-coached team to five straight.
The irrepressible Khesanio Hall in the 50th minute, scoring in every game for STETHS so far this season, and Donjay Smith in the 74th were the scorers yesterday, in what looked to be an easier win than was expected.
Manchester High had conceded just one goal this season coming into the game, going 12 consecutive games until they conceded two in the space of 24 minutes to extend their drought of not winning a major football title.
STETHS coach Omar Wedderburn, who described himself as the “special one”, said he was pleased with how his players approached the game yesterday.
“They set this title as one of their objectives and went after it and I am just happy to be able to guide them,” he said. Wedderburn said half-time adjustments were key to them winning the title, using more flank play in the second half.
A distraught-looking Davis said after a good first half his Manchester High team was “flat” in the second half and did not respond when STETHS came at them.
He said mistakes in the defence also led to their demise. After using most of the first half to adjust, the full-to-overflowing venue was expecting an explosive second half, but it was the marauding STETHS team that dominated the second 45 minutes, as Manchester were forced back in their own half for long periods.
On the few occasions they went forward, however, Manchester looked dangerous, but failed to capitalise, having what appeared to be a goal called back.
Five minutes into the second half Rohan Lindsay dribbled to the left corner flag then found the unmarked Hall with a perfect cross that the big striker headed powerfully past goalkeeper Nicholas King, as the partisan crowd erupted. STETHS came close to adding a second goal in the 63rd minute, but his pile-driver from about 30 yards was tipped for a corner. Another foray down the wing in the 74th minute, this time by Hall, who picked out Smith on the other wing, and he obliged by blasting the ball past King into the far corner.
The second goal knocked the fight out of Manchester, all but giving STETHS a free run at them, and Hall almost made it 3-0, but his powerful long-range shot in the 78th minute was saved on the second try by King.
Paul Reid – Observer Writer
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