FA Cup finals typically have plenty of drama, incidents and twists at the end and those attending the season’s finale at the TE McField Annex on Sunday got that in abundance.
Elite Sports Club were the favorites merely for their long pedigree, although their Premier League season was a struggle with a small squad and key players leaving for pro careers abroad which meant they only finished fifth.
Against the bubbling Jamaican contingent of Roma United, Elite were facing First Division champs who had lost only once all term and that was in the President’s Cup.
Elite settled quickest with Jairo Sanchez and Dwayne “Gaza” Wright going close early on.
Sanchez is a midfield kingpin for Elite but a rare flash of impetuous behavior led to a straight red from referee Christopher Stewart for violent conduct in an off-the-ball incident in the 24th minute.
Wright is a former Roma striker who has a habit of scoring against them and this match was no different.
Within two minutes of Sanchez’s dismissal, Wright latched onto a Marvin Boothe pass and slotted the ball past the on-rushing Roma keeper Clifton Ricketts for his 18th strike of the season. Not bad for a player carrying injuries for much of the campaign.
After the break, a dipping Gawayne Speed shot from 20 yards was not cleanly collected by Elite keeper Danner Taylor but nobody was close enough to capitalize.
Roma had most possession throughout but, despite the extra man, could not find a finish. In fact, Elite came closer to scoring, Jedd Ebanks hitting the crossbar from 30 yards.
With three minutes left, the resilient Elite again almost scored when Wright chased a bouncing ball but hit his volley high as he pulled up with a leg injury.
That miss looked costly when in the dying seconds Roma were awarded a hotly disputed penalty for handball.
Youngster Gavin Reynolds stepped up for the kick but hit it wide to his left to spark muted celebrations by Elite who seemed too exhausted to be exuberant. The trophy was collected by captain Abijah Rivers from Bruce Blake, Cayman Islands Football Association’s first vice-president.
So a 1-0 victory for Elite who won this elusive prize at their fourth attempt.