The Digicel Cup final promised much but the two teams involved could not wring out a winner until a nerve-wracking penalty shootout decided it.
Scholars International were the marginal favourites against Elite Sports Club at the TE McField Annex on Ash Wednesday.
Scholars are the league and FA Cup champions and Elite were defending the Digicel Cup they won against Bodden Town last year. Both teams are from West Bay so immense local pride was at stake, too.
But despite their credentials and with some of the Premier League’s top scorers in both sides, they totally cancelled each other out.
Scholars could have wrapped victory up in the opening 10 minutes but their excellent approach play was not rewarded with a score.
Elite, thankful for the reprieve, created their own chances as the game wore on.
Deadly striker Mark Ebanks had taken his season’s tally to 11 with five goals a few days earlier. But a combination of tight marking, excellent keeping by Jermaine “Whacky” Brown and Ebanks finding his form, led to a blank for the former Scholars player who was anxious to score against teammates he left behind only last month.
Ebanks hit the crossbar from a speculative 30-yarder, but Whacky insisted he had it covered anyway.
So after 30 minutes extra time and still no score, it went to penalties. Unusually for a shootout, nobody missed but keepers Brown and Elite’s James Joseph made saves of their own. The keepers also hit a penalty each against each other.
Even after the normal five penalties they still could not be separated with each scoring four apiece. So it went into sudden death and the hero who emerged was Jermaine “Plumber” Haughton, who recently returned from Jamaica after a year’s absence through the rollover policy.
Haughton maintained his composure and certainly did not rollover under the pressure. Joseph dived the wrong way and Plumber triggered a tidal wave of appreciation from ecstatic teammates and supporters. Captain Oneil Taylor collected the trophy.