KINGSTON College (KC) claimed the 2021-22 Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association Manning Cup title on Saturday with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Jamaica College (JC), after the teams were locked 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes.
In a cautious strategic battle that lacked the enterprise many would have hoped for between the top two teams in the urban area, Christopher Pearson gave KC a 29th-minute lead in the final at Stadium East. But JC Captain Duncan McKenzie equalised with a direct free kick in minute 42.
When neither school could find a second goal in regulation time, it was down to penalties to decide the winner, with KC narrowly prevailing in the nerve-wracking finale for their 16th hold on the title.
Jemone Barclay, Carrick Stewart, Romario Campbell, Luis Watson and Demario McCarthy scored spot kicks for KC, while Pearson, who was the third kicker for his team, saw his effort saved.
JC's Romain Blake, Michael Graham, McKenzie, and Tarick Ximines found the net with their efforts. But Giovanni Mitto, JC's fourth kicker, booted his attempt over the cross bar whileRaheem Fraser saw his sudden death kick saved.
Ludlow Bernard, the Kingston College head coach, said his players formed compact lines while trying to catch their opponents on the counter, in the first Manning Cup final between the teams since 1975.
“I loved the tactical adjustment that the players made on the pitch. They sat back and established a line… and basically said to JC, 'You come at us.' It frustrated them significantly and a lot of the balls that were going into our goalkeeper were wayward passes.
“We chose to take them on the counter and I think, as the game wore on, we managed to wear them down. In the second half we were probably dominating them but I think that lacked the cutting edge,” he explained.
“Congrats to the boys for really taking the penalty practices very seriously over the last couple of evenings. Coach Raymond Watson spent a lot of time, both with the kickers and the goalkeepers,” Bernard continued.
JC Head Coach Ferguson said his team moved away from the short passes, which he believed was most likely to open the KC defence.
“It was a game between two very good teams. I think tactically it was a very good battle, and over 90 minutes no team managed to separate itself. We were trying to go long instead of trying to play short [passes] to get a rhythm, because once we put the ball on the ground we normally get behind them,” he said.
“Once we went to penalties it was anybody's game. I think we got the ascendancy in the penalty shoot-out but we didn't capitalise on that,” Ferguson noted.
In overcast conditions in late afternoon, JC, who won the competition when it was last held in 2019, had the bulk of possession and pumped forward with more regularity — but they were not able to unlock KC's resistance.
At the other end, North Street-based KC attempted a few long-range thunderbolts but did not trouble their opponents' goal.
But KC continued to carry attacking threat in quick bursts and Pearson eventually handed them a one-goal advantage over their major rivals from Old Hope Road with a finish from just outside the six-yard box.
Only 13 minutes later McKenzie evened proceedings, directing a low, left-footed free kick from 22 yards that went around the wall and past goalkeeper David Martin.
The battle of attrition continued in the second half as both teams, though seeking the match-winning goal, appeared ultra wary of conceding, and it took the penalty shoot-out to separate them.