Members of the STETHSteam celebrate afterbreaking the deadlockagainst Frome during theirISSA Ben Francis Cup semifinalencounter at STETHSSports Complex yesterday.(Photo: Karl Mclarty)
STETHS, Edwin Allen to contest Ben Francis Cup final

SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Edwin Allen High School will challenge for their first major football title when they meet St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) in the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Ben Francis Cup final, after registering contrasting victories in their respective semi-final encounters here at STETHS Sports Complex on Tuesday.

The Frankfield-based Edwin Allen slammed Manchester High 4-0 while former six-time champions STETHS remained on course for a seventh lien with a 1-0 win over Frome Technical in the feature contest of the double-header.

Richard Henry starred for Edwin Allen with a brace in the sixth and 60th minutes, before Jahiem Harris (76th) and Ackeem Mullings (90th+2) sealed the four-star performance.

Meanwhile, Michael Jerman's 43rd-minute strike proved enough for STETHS in a lukewarm performance.

Both teams will meet in Friday's final, which precede the daCosta Cup final between Garvey Maceo and Manning's School, at the same venue.

What was initially expected to be a close affair between Edwin Allen and Manchester High failed to materialise as the latter offered very little resistance to their opponents' marauding display.

Edwin Allen, who had nine of their 21 shots on target, broke the deadlock a mere six minutes into the contest when Henry fired home.

Though Manchester had their fair share of possession in the first half, they struggled to orchestrate anything meaningful in the final third.

As such, their defenders were left to the mercy of Edwin Allen's dynamic trio — Henry and Harris, as well as Mullings – who could have added to the team's first-half tally but were undone by faulty shooting and tidy glovework by Othniel Reid in goal for Manchester on occasions.

The Tafari Burton-coached Edwin Allen maintained their dominance on the resumption but had to wait until the hour mark to add to their tally.

Mullings, who earlier skied a sitter from close range, redeemed himself as he headed on Harris's long free kick for Henry to fire home his and Edwin Allen's second after Reid came and failed to collect cleanly.

Manchester High's most telling display in attack came four minutes later when Yarek Carnegie rifled a right-footer to force a decent save out of custodian Kimani Matthews, who did well to parry.

The resulting corner brought about another stinging effort, this time from Javaine Lindsay whose shot rocketed off the crossbar.

At the other end, a defensive error paved the way for Henry to unleash a right-footed shot which, though slowed by a deflection, had Reid beaten and had to be cleared off the line by Manchester's Captain Damali Esson.

That effort merely delayed the inevitable as Harris, who was an instrumental figure in Edwin Allen's attack, finally got his name on the scoresheet when he converted a well-taken free kick to Reid's right for his sixth goal of the season.

And Mullings capped the win when he slid right of a defender on the break to make space for a right-footed drive along the ground, beating the outstretched right glove of Reid in time added.

STETHS, who entered yesterday's game on a seven-match unbeaten run, were always favoured to get the better of a Frome Technical team that they thrashed 6-0 in their daCosta Cup quarter-final meeting.

However, there was to be no repeat of that performance in terms of the margin of victory.

Both teams started evenly and had a few good looks on goal in the early exchanges, but none was able to hit the target.

In fact, just when the first half seemed destined to end goalless, Jerman's shot from outside the 18-yard box took a deflection and caught Frome's custodian Dennis James going the wrong way.

That was all the damage the contest would serve up as action after the interval mostly left a lot to be desired.

Edwin Allen's scorer Richard Henry (right) and Lance Morris of Manchester High challengefor possession of the football during their ISSA Ben Francis Cup semi-final encounter atSTETHS Sports Complex yesterday. Edwin Allen won 5-1. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

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