JC edges STATHS 7-6 on sudden-death penalties to secure fourth Walker Cup lien

By December 08, 2023
Jamaica College Jamaica College MGsports_media

For the fifth time in recent years, Jamaica College and St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) had to be separated by penalties, and for the fifth time, Jamaica College toppled their perennial rivals.

The Old Hope Road-based team registered a 7-6 sudden death shootout win over their Bumper Hall-based opponents, after both played out a 1-1 stalemate in a keenly contested ISSA/Digicel Walker Cup final at the National Stadium on Friday.

Leon Brown gave STATHS a fifth-minute lead, but that was cancelled out by Jamaica College’s captain Renson Sayers Jr (59th), and from there the Davion Ferguson-coached “Dark Blues” maintained their composure best to register a fourth hold on the knockout title.

Both teams converted the first four of their five initial penalty kicks, and a further three in sudden death with things locked at 6-6 when controversy struck.

This, as Jamaica College’s Zinodean McLean, who had his attempt saved by STATHS’ goalkeeper Jaheem Williams, was allowed a retake as it is understood that the ball wasn’t stationery at the time of the kick, which goes against the laws of the game. McLean converted on the second occasion, after which, Kevin Hall of STATHS hit his kick over the crossbar, gifting Jamaica College the win.

While it wasn’t the way Ferguson wanted the outcome to be decided Ferguson welcomed the win which adds to the titles won in 2009, 2010 and 2017, especially after they failed to defend their more prestigious ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup.

“I think the incident at the end really marred the game, but kudos to our boys. We came out here today (Friday) and we started a little bit shaky but on the flow of the game we had the better of STATHS, still commiserations to STATHS, I think they played well. They are always a difficult opponent, but I think today we wanted it more, and our boys showed that,” Ferguson said in a post-game interview.

STATHS Head coach Phillip Williams was unavailable for a comment as the coaching staff and players were distraught and irritated that the retake was allowed.

And their disappointment is very much understandable as they would have wanted to add this Walker Cup to their solitary Manning Cup title won in 1987, and their wait to break that lengthy drought continued.

Both Jamaica College and STATHS have met in three finals last five to six years and given their rivalry, the contest, despite not being for Manning Cup honours, was always expected to be a lively one and it didn’t disappoint.

Jamaica College looked a bit more purposeful at the start, but it was STATHS that struck first in the fifth minute when Rashaun Frankson’s weighted cross inside the 18-yard box fell to an unmarked Brown, who finished a free header for his 17th goal of the season.

In the 25th, STATHS thought they had a penalty when Brown sidewined his way through two defenders and was felled inside the danger area, but referee Tyrone Robinson waved off the appeal.

Jamaica College again went on the charge in the 34th and it took a timely save by Williams, who got down well to his left, to keep out substitute Thierry Garrick’s left-footed effort.

STATHS should have doubled their advantage four minutes later, as Andre Salmon broke behind defenders and into one-on-one with Jamaica College’s custodian Raul Renton, who left his line, but tried to be fancy and the effort went well wide of the target.

Jamaica College intensified their press for the equaliser on the resumption and eventually and got it, when Sayers Jr converted from the 12-yard spot, after Malachi Sterling was felled inside the area by Alexavier Gooden.

Both teams nullified each other thereafter, but STATHS gradually regained the ascendancy and enjoyed a decent passage of play in the 70th. At that point, they found a number of openings from which they could have gone ahead, but Jamaica College stood firm and repelled everything thrown at them.

Jamaica College responded and went close four minutes later, as Sayers Jr’s well-taken freekick from just about 25 yards out, was tipped unto the crossbar by Williams.

And the “Dark Blues” almost won it late when Sterling’s weighted cross was headed down by Sayers Jr, but not properly cleared by STATHS and that allowed the powerfully built captain another opportunity, which he struck acrobatically only found the upright it in time added.

It was then down to the dreaded penalties to decide the outcome, and much like it was in 2017, 2019, as well as in the last season’s Manning Cup final and Champions Cup semi-final, Jamaica College proved the better of the two from the spot.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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