MONTEGO BAY, St James — Fancied teams St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS) and Glenmuir High will battle for the ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel daCosta Cup schoolboy title next week after scoring contrasting semi-final wins yesterday.
STETHS, who stayed on course for the rural area double after winning the Ben Francis KO, beat Frome Technical, 1-0, in extra time at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, while a first-half hat-trick from Noel Johnson carried Glenmuir to a 3-0 win over Mannings School in Santa Cruz, finally ending their fairytale season.
Carl Campbell's 104th-minute goal was the difference in Montego Bay before a small crowd. Johnson, who took over the lead in the Golden Boot race with his hat-trick yesterday with a total of six, edging past teammate Xhane Reid, killed off Mannings' hopes with goals in the 10th, 12th and time added on at the end of the first half.
Glenmuir's veteran tactician Patrick 'Jackie' Walters said his team came to play, especially in the first half, but said they would have to be more consistent in the final.
"To be in the final once more is good and especially in the first 25 minutes our game was worthy of Glenmuir's standards," he said, but added a word of caution, "We have to be more consistent in the final."
Mannings' Aaron Lawrence was already looking to the future.
"The future looks good as we will only lose about three players. My hat off to the players as not many thought we would reach this far."
In Montego Bay, STETHS were forced to fight tooth and nail in a game that was at times scrappy as Frome adopted a defence-first strategy that frustrated STETHS and resulted in a near stalemate.
Omar Wedderburn, who was assisted on the STETHS bench by veteran coach Wendell Downswell, said they came expecting a tough fight from Frome.
"This is a semi-finals and we were prepared to go to penalty kicks if needs be," he told the Sunday Observer.
He gave credit to Frome: "They did not allow us to play as we wanted and it was 50-50 ball for long periods. The strikers did not execute according to instructions."
Frome's Marvin Quarrie said he was "proud of this team as they gave it their all and I can't be more proud of them and the effort they gave today".
He admitted they kept players behind the ball with the hope of catching STETHS on the counter. "We know they have problems on the flanks and that was where we hope to catch them, but it never worked," he said.
Frome's goalkeeper Omeally Perrin, as he did in the 0-0 draw against Glenmuir to help his team qualify for the semi-finals, pulled off a series of brilliant saves to keep his team in the game and within touching distance of the final.
His first came in the fourth minute when he went to his left to block Khesanio Hall's point blank effort.
Both teams squandered great scoring chances late in the first half. Campbell had a wide open goal at his mercy in the 34th, but in his anxiety, completely missed the ball.
Frome cleared the danger, leading directly to a chance, and a stumble by STETHS' central defender Rushane McLymont sent Tevin Williams clear, but he himself fumbled, allowing the defender to atone for his mistake by clearing the ball out of danger.
Two good saves by Perrin in the second half forced the game into extra time. The first came in the 50th when he came off his line to block Jamel Sinclair, who was sent through down the middle, beating two Frome defenders.
Later, in the 83rd, he again threw himself at the feet of two STETHS players to block a shot just outside the six-yard box.
STETHS wasted a good chance early in the first period of extra time when two players, Hall and Sinclair, mistimed a ball that bounced over their heads on the right side of the goal with Perrin stranded at the other end.
Campbell eventually unlocked the tight Frome defence four minutes into the second period of extra time when he was left alone and had time to control the ball, picked his spot and powered it past Perrin from close range.
STETHS should have killed off the game two minutes later, but Hall headed wide in front of a wide open goal.