Scholars win tough FA Cup final, 2-0, over Money Express
The smart money might have been on Money Express in the FA Cup final played at the Annex in George Town Sunday. The green machine had been ripping up the Foster’s National League; they always were tough on both ends of the field; they scored often; were not prone to giving up easy goals; and their coach only talked about getting better. One might have expected their opponent to lie down and take a preordained beating in Sunday’s match..
Scholars International saw it differently, however. The West Bay-based club showed up with fire in their eyes and confidence in their boots.
From the first whistle it immediately became clear that both teams were determined to take home the FA Cup. Nobody would be lying down in this one.
Scholars drew first blood, thanks in part to their aggressive attitude. They were quick to take a corner kick, so quick, in fact, that some Money Express defenders were caught looking the other way. The corner kick created a flurry of chaos in front of the Money Express goal. The keeper was able to stop a strong shot from point-blank range but could not hold on to it. A Scholars player was on the loose ball fast and popped it in for the game’s first goal.
Now playing catch up, Money Express turned it up the heat even more. They created a few good chances near the end of the first half but could not score against a determined Scholars defense led by Captain Romeo Thomas.
In the second half, the game turned increasingly physical and, at times, ugly. In one span of several minutes, for example, referee Alfredo Whittaker pulled three yellow cards in an attempt to maintain control. The game’s intensity never waned in the final minutes, with Money Express becoming increasingly desperate to find a way through Scholars defense.
In the 80th minute, Scholars had a chance to plunge a dagger into the heart of Money Express. Referee Whittaker awarded a penalty kick to Scholars. The keeper took the kick and missed wide left, however.
Scholars kept up the pressure and finally did get that icing for their cake with a beautiful long, low strike from 20 yards out. The 2-0 victory clinched yet another honor for one of Cayman’s most popular and storied football clubs.
As the team celebrated with supporters on the field, Scholars Captain Romeo Thomas reflected on the achievement.
‘We felt confident before the game that we could win,’ he said. ‘We had good training sessions this week. We really worked hard for this. It was an overall team win. Teamwork won it for us.’
Thomas has played for Scholars since 1993.
The triumph also represents another feather in the cap for Scholars coach Antonio Smith. The former star player for Scholars clearly has established himself as one of domestic football’s most capable coaches.
For all the knee-wrenching tackles and late-game cheap shots, it is important to note that when the final whistle blew both teams came together for sincere handshakes and a show of mutual respect. Sportsmanship is alive and well in Cayman football.