Premier League action made way for the Digicel Cup semi-finals on Sunday and there were plenty of incidents to make the second legs a date for all football lovers to attend at the TE McField Annex on 13 February.
In the first game Roma United, winners in 2008, faced East End. Wayne ‘Bigga’ Smith was the hero in Roma’s campaign three years ago and he made his mark immediately in this game, brilliantly flighting a free kick from outside the box in the opening exchanges to score from a tight angle. Perfect start for Roma but soon after East End’s Rico Bodden showed why he is the club’s most lethal marksman with an equally impressive free kick, only this one was blasted with precision.
After the break the intensity increased and it was Kiegel ‘Stammer’ Atkinson who broke the deadlock, seizing on an opportunity to score from close range. East End felt Atkinson was offside. They had a point but the goal still stood.
With the game drawing to a close and adrenaline flowing, the intensity increased and with that tempers frayed. A flashpoint resulted in Roma’s Craig Carridice being sent off after a clash with Kemar Sanderson who also had to go. Roma’s Damalay Howell also got red soon after for a second yellow card. Howell had earlier hit the cross bar with a fabulous free kick.
Tempers spilled over outside the changing rooms with Howell ending up bruised up which held up the game. An unfortunate incident which marred an otherwise great game played in the right spirit.
East End technical director Thiago Cunha said: “It was an excellent match. We didn’t have Carson Fagan who is one of our key players. He was suspended but he will be back for the second leg. We have a young team but they showed a lot of heart and fought to the end.
“I couldn’t tell, but my players felt Roma’s second goal was offside, but we have to keep going. They are only one goal ahead. Kemar will serve a one match ban and we expect him to be in the second leg also.”
The sending offs aside, this was a superb appetiser for the other Digicel Cup semi, between perennial rivals George Town and Scholars International. George Town are Digicel Cup champs and they showed plenty of determination to keep hold. Both sides had chances in the first half but the killer goal came late in the game from Scholars captain Oneil Taylor who burst through for the vital strike.
Head bandaged from an earlier injury, Taylor showed tremendous leadership qualities for that crucial first leg win. With slim margins from both semi-finals, the stage is perfectly set for great second leg games next week.