The Digicel Cup final was a marvellous advert of Cayman football. It was combative, entertaining and there were plenty of goals.
The youngsters from Elite triumphed 4-1 over the more seasoned players from Scholars International and nobody was more pleased than Rene Carter.
He scored Elite’s first early in the game at the Truman Bodden Field last Wednesday with a superb strike from 20 yards which settled the West Bay side considerably.
Carter had three championship seasons with Scholars before controversially joining Elite this season, so the goal, his man-of-the-match trophy and winner’s medal must be all the sweeter.
Under captain Abijah Rivers, Elite started faster and maintained a high tempo throughout.
Carter’s goal came in the ninth minute. Six minutes later goal machine Donovan Godet got the second. Hank Parchment hit the third in the 61st minute and Jairo Sanchez fired in a penalty in the 81st minute. The Scholars goal came from a penalty by Nahun Rodriquez six minutes from time.
The introduction of lightning fast Chris Douglas in the second half was too little too late.
Elite look set to wrap up the Premier League title soon too, again, over Scholars who are also West Bay-based so now they have to concede that they are only the second-best team in the district.
But Scholars are never down for too long and they are bound to regroup and come again stronger next season.
Elite coach Greg Ebanks has perserved with his youngsters over the years in the full knowledge that they would come good eventually.
He wasn’t wrong but he still didn’t expect such a comfortable victory against the far more experienced, older side.
‘Quite frankly I’m amazed at this convincing win and never imagined the score line would be 4-1,’ he said.
‘I think that Rene Carter demonstrated great technique and insight and he showed the desire not only to play but to win.
‘By all measures of every evaluation by anyone assigned to consider him, he was the unanimous MVP. The whole team played exceptionally well on every part of the field.
‘We did have a few lapses of concentration, but overall we kept our composure.’
Ebanks added: ‘Obviously, the unsung heroes would be Scholars, who played well and were very determined.
Despite a nine point lead in the Prem, Ebanks is not taking that for granted. ‘For Elite to win the league we will require consistency. Consistency is what counts.
‘I tell my players I only play well when I’m prepared. If I don’t practice the way I should, then I won’t play the way that I know I can. In essence the more they practice the better they will get to pursue higher heights in football.’
Scholars coach Dougie Rowe was disappointed but he fully expects Scholars to dust themselves down and come back stronger.
‘Our tactics going to the final was a 4-4-2 formation,’ he said. ‘The plan was to keep the ball but we did not. We played the game Elite wanted. We tried to play the long ball and that was the problem for us, that’s not our game.
‘I would not say Elite were better than I expected. We knew that they were coming hard and we planned for that. The thing is, they stuck to their game plan and we did not. They got the early goals and went on from that.’
What does he see for Scholars now? ‘Scholars always have an up and down season every year we play and this was another one and we can overcome this final like we did in the past so we need to work harder now.’
Will there be any wholesale changes? ‘Well in terms of changes we have no plans now until the season finishes.’