It’s a brand new season and a brand new Roma United.
Roma, which underwent massive turnover in the offseason, came through with a timely goal in its Cayman Islands Premier League season opener against Sunset at the Annex on Saturday night.
The two teams played a close-fought defensive struggle for most of the game, and midfielder Yolande Plummer gave Roma a 1-0 win with a volleyed goal in the closing minutes.
Roma coach Rohan Lewis said that his team, which finished second in the league just two seasons ago, had to replace 14 players in the offseason. That’s an unprecedented amount of turnover for the club, and Lewis said that he came out of retirement in order to hold the team together.
“It means everything to us,” he said of the opening victory. “The players put it together. It’s not finished yet, but it’s a good start for the players and all the hard work they’ve been doing.”
The two sides had struggled to make the most of their possession in the first half, and Sunset had a couple opportunities on goal in the second half. But just as the clock was winding down in the second half, Plummer darted in on goal from the right side and punched a volley into the net.
“We made a switch taking out the centre halfback and putting him in midfield,” said Lewis.
“That gave us a bit more punch in terms of control and balance.”
Sunset coach Gareth Thacker said that his team added nine new players in the offseason, and he’s hoping that more time spent in practice will yield results down the line.
“It’s really hard to gel and blend them all so quickly,” said Thacker. “I was very proud of them tonight, but we did switch off in the last couple minutes and that’s when Roma scored their goal. We didn’t deserve to lose. We didn’t deserve to win, but it was a little tough losing in the 89th minute.”
There were two other Cayman Islands Premier League games on Saturday night. Scholars beat East End 4-1 in Bodden Town, and Academy and Future played to a 1-1 draw at the Annex after the Roma game.
Thacker is looking forward to competition and his team’s improvement over the course of the season.
“We’ll regroup and come back next week and hopefully get a win,” he said. “It might take a few weeks before we peak. We’ve just got to get working on the training ground like all the coaches say.”
Cayman Islands Premier League
Roma 1, Sunset 0 at the Annex
East End 1, Scholars 4 at Bodden Town
Academy 1, Future 1 at the Annex
George Town vs. Latinos at the Annex (7 pm)
Elite vs. Bodden Town at Ed Bush (7 pm)
North Side vs. Alliance at East End (7 pm)
Women’s League: Scholars vs. Roma at the Annex (5 pm)