The great STETHS rally

Rural outfit outshoot Calabar 6-5 on penalties to book Super Cup final berth

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 19, 2017



It will be a performance forever etched in the minds of Coach Omar Wedderburn and his St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) team as they pulled off an impressive comeback to get by newcomers Calabar High 6-5 on sudden death penalties in their ISSA/FLOW Super Cup semi-final encounter at Sabina Park yesterday.

The Santa Cruz-based team, who went down by a similar scoreline on penalties to eventual champions Wolmer's Boys in the semi-final last year, produced a spectacular turnaround to finally secure a spot in the showpiece event and, by extension, ensured that it will be another 'country' versus 'town' finale this year.

Clifton Woodbine, with a 75th-minute penalty, and Demar James in the 80th kept their team in the evenly contested curtain-raiser of the double-header after Orane Ferguson starred for the Red Hills Road-based Calabar with a double strike in the 42nd and 57th minutes.

They now await the winner of the much-anticipated feature contest between former champions Jamaica College and Kingston College, where the latter were leading 1-0 after 41 minutes to vie for their first hold on the lucrative title.

JC are seeking to become the first team to win the title twice, while KC are seeking their first hold.

STETHS Coach Wedderburn was overwhelmed by his team's performance.

“We came here with the intention to win tonight, it didn't matter how we won it, but honestly we never wanted it to go into penalties, because we have another semi-final on Tuesday, but 'Hustle quick, never quit' that is our motto, and we knew if we kept our nerves right through then we would have come out victorious,” he told the Jamaica Observer in a post-game interview.

“I told them at the break that we needed a goal in 20 minutes, but unfortunately Calabar got the goal, and when I looked and I saw 23 minutes, I told them we still have time, because if we get that one goal then it is going to open up Calabar's backline and the players stuck to the task and never quit,” he added.

Meanwhile, efforts to get a comment from Calabar's head coach Lij Simms proved futile as he declined an interview.

Earlier, STETHS came into the contest as the lone wolf carrying the hopes of the rural area and would have been favoured to come away with the victory, but Calabar — though lacking individual flair — possess a will second to none.

Both teams started positively, with STETHS gradually gaining ascendancy in possession and signalled intentions with a few warning shots. The momentum shifted on the half-hour mark as Calabar exhibited their attacking ability and threw a few good blows of their own, but they also failed to find the breakthrough.

However, the plucky green-and-black-clad Calabar outfit, in this their first year contesting the competition, seemed poised to upset the apple cart when they held a 1-0 lead at the break courtesy of Ferguson.

The lanky player, sporting the number 10 jersey, failed to beat custodian Shavar Foster from the 12-yard spot after the ball was handled inside the area, but he followed up well on the rebound to make amends.

STETHS were expected to come out strong on the resumption, but it was Ferguson and Calabar again delivering another devastating blow 12 minutes in as they strongly placed one foot into the final.

The play started from the left channel through Rushane Williams, who picked out Collin Anderson, and the latter drove a powerful right-footed effort which came back off the cross bar and was headed back in by Ferguson.

With Calabar 2-0 up three minutes to the hour mark, it was hard to bet against them being the surprise package of the knockout competition.

However, it was not to be, as STETHS found their footing and applied consistent pressure, which eventually saw them commencing the proverbial great comeback through Woodbine, who converted a penalty after Tahjae Green was brought down inside the area.

And they were back on level terms five minutes later when James breached the defence and calmly slotted wide of the hapless Deandre McCoy in goal for Calabar to send the game straight into the dreaded penalty kicks.

Both teams were locked at five goals apiece in the shoot-out when Demario Adams and Anderson miscued their kicks which allowed Damani Henderson to seal victory for STETHS even after goalkeeper Foster saw his shot blocked by his opposite number.

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