Elite Sports Club went into Sunday night’s FA Cup final hoping to end the season positively after finishing an uncustomary fifth in the Premier League and did so by the skin of their teeth against Roma United in an incident-packed match.
Elite started well at the TE McField Annex but losing Jairo Sanchez in the 24th minute – who got a straight red card for violent conduct – did not enhance their chances.
Despite the setback, Elite showed admirable team spirit by going ahead soon after thanks to deadly striker Dwayne “Gaza” Wright who steered home after good work by Darvin Dixon.
That goal in the 26th minute was Gaza’s 18th strike of the season, a great total considering he has carried injuries and Elite’s strike force was severely curtailed by Mark Ebanks seeking a pro career in California.
Roma pressed in the second half as Elite tired, but the West Bay’s collective spirit was admirable, with outstanding contributions from brothers Jedd and Jason Ebanks in midfield, skipper Abijah Rivers in the heart of the defence and Dixon all over the park.
Gawayne Speed, Steve Dunkley and Gavin Reynolds all went close for Roma but a combination of resilient defending, luck and poor finishing prevented the runaway First Division champions from finding that elusive equalizer.
Elite almost got a second when Jedd Ebanks hit a screamer from way out but it skimmed the top of the crossbar. Gaza should have done better near the end when put through but he skied his volley well over and ended up writhing in pain from injury.
Roma’s constant pressure looked to have paid off in the final minute when referee Christopher Stewart awarded them a penalty from a handball which Elite thought was totally unfounded.
Reynolds took the kick but blasted it wide to give Elite their first FA Cup victory in four attempts.
On balance, Elite deserved the win, but if Roma intend to do well in the Premier League next season they must sharpen their finishing skills. It was their downfall when relegated a couple of years ago and still needs to be rectified.