Lennon claim historic first Ben Francis KO title
Lennon High School's long wait for a schoolboy football title is over. The Mocho, Clarendon-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 the two ended regulation and extra-time deadlocked at 1-1.
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 lead.
It took STETHS the entire second half to find the equaliser, again coming late in a an important match, when Demar James headed home from close at 1-1 in the 93rd minute, sending 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 indeed it was, as STETHS, who would have made it seven-straight 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.
Starved of a schoolboy title and having come close on a few occasions, Lennon were determined not to let this one slip and when they grabbed the early lead and started to outplay 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.
Technical director Wendell Downswell said STETHS will now turn their attention to the daCosta Cup.
"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 the daCosta Cup semi-final. We want our revenge for this defeat, but congratulations to them for a great game," he added.