MCGRATH HIGH School created history, marching into the finals of the ISSA/WATA Ben Francis Knockout Cup for the first time through a 2-1 victory over six-time champions St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) at Manchester High School yesterday.
Marching right along with them into the final are Frome Technical, who thrashed Happy Grove 4-0 in their semi-final match at Glenmuir.
STETHS’ players and coaching staff were left in a sombre mood after watching their football season come to a ‘premature’ end.
It was so depressing that STETHS head coach, Omar ‘Rambo’ Wedderburn, refused to give an interview to The Gleaner when asked for a comment on the game.
McGrath’s Dontae Anderson opened the scoring in the 29th minute before STETHS” Abena Wallace equalised in the 44th. In the 80th, McGrath’s Devone Davis scored the deciding goal.
Seconds into the game, STETHS sounded a warning shot, coming close save for the goalkeeper’s interjection.
In the third minute, STETHS earned another opportunity but failed to make it count.
Then disaster struck from STETHS. A McGrath throw was nodded over the flailing arms of Jahnoi Steadman.
At 1-0 down, STETHS were far from beaten, Wallace bringing them level just before the half-time break with a beautifully struck delivery that forced an error from McGrath custodian Joel Davis, who watched haplessly as his fumble left the effort sailing over his head and into his net.
STETHS, buoyed by getting back into the game, put Davis and his defenders to work but failed to capitalise on very presentable opportunities.
STETHS would run out of steam, leaving the door open for McGrath’s counter-punching.
McGrath spurned some opportunities themselves, but Davis, the outfielder, struck home after a failed attempt at a save fell to him.
After being doused with water by his players, an excited Norman Hudson, assistant coach of McGrath High, was happy for the history-making achievement.
“It was a great feeling that we are in the finals. Some of these players, is the first time they are really going to play in a final. It was history for north St Catherine and the school. Today was a tough game. STETHS, they have some great players. They are very experienced players and played us physical. We were able to set up tactically for their game plan. As for the finals, we are looking forward to playing moment by moment and getting the job done,” Hudson said.
Davian Dennis, assistant coach of STETHS, said the team didn’t play like they wanted to win.
“We played around, and in the end, we gave up. Our season has ended, and it is a tough feeling. We started out putting a team together to win the daCosta Cup but made a few mistakes by not scoring and dropped out. Now we come here to win the Ben Francis and we lose, so yes, it is a very tough one for us. The season is over, so we are going to take some rest and see what is next for us,” said Dennis.
The Ben Francis final is at the National Stadium on December 9.
STETHS 1-2 McGrath
Happy Grove 0-4 Frome