X-Roads pumped’ for final – Cooper
X-Roads are aiming to become the seventeenth team to win the FA Cup when they face holders Robin Hood in the 64th final at the National Stadium on Sunday.
It will be a match-up between the two newest clubs in the Premier Division, Hood aiming for a third triumph in four seasons while X-Roads are the first East End club to reach the final since Wellington Rovers in 1958.
X-Roads train at Harris Bay Field but play their league matches at Garrison Field, the same home field the Rovers used when they beat BAA 4-2 in the third FA Cup final.
X-Roads were formed in the mid-1990s when they started with a junior team before joining the First Division in 2004. They did reach two Shield finals, losing 2-0 to Hamilton Parish in 2012, and again in 2016 when they lost to BAA 4-1 on penalties.
Those final appearances will pale in comparison to the excitement of being in, and possibly winning, an FA Cup final.
“If you’re not pumped up for an FA Cup final then you can’t really call yourself a footballer,” said Dashun Cooper, the X-Roads goalkeeper, who saved two penalties in the shoot-out against Dandy Town in the semi-finals. The match finished 3-3 after regulation time.
“Excited is a massive understatement. Everyone is roaring to go, we’re really excited.
“There has definitely been a lot of talk in the community, the island really, as people are surprised to see X-Roads in their first FA Cup final. A lot of people are telling me they are coming to the final, so it’s an exciting time for the club.”
X-Roads lost twice to Hood in the league, the second defeat only a week ago, so they know what to expect from their opponents who are looking to become the first team since Dandy Town in 2015 to repeat as champions.
“We knew we were going to have somebody tough regardless, but we just have to be ready on the day,” Cooper said.
“That was a weird game [against Hood], both teams were resting players because they didn’t want anybody to get suspended or injured. You can call it a rehearsal but you kind of knew that both teams didn’t want to show their hand.”
Hood, who joined the league in 2009 and were promoted to the top flight two seasons later under then coach Andrew Bascome, have become a force in local football in the past ten years. They were relegated in 2013 after two just seasons but bounced back the next season. Hood won the league in 2017 as well as two FA Cup titles and the Friendship Trophy final in 2015.
n A weekend of finals will begin on Saturday with the Masters Knockout Cup final at Bernard Park between Hamilton Parish and St George’s Stallions at 4pm.
The consolation final between Young Men’s Social Club and St George’s All-Stars starts at 2pm. Parish are chasing another piece of silverware after winning the Masters East v West final when they beat Flanagan’s Onions 3-2 at Bernard Park last weekend.
Irving Burgess scored twice for Parish and Lorenzo Simmons the other, while Michael Luber and Gregory Simons replied for Onions.
The FA Cup final will be preceded by the Expansion League Knockout Cup final at 2pm between Somerset Trojans and Devonshire Cougars. The match will be a repeat of last year’s final which Cougars won 4-3 on penalties after the teams finished 1-1 in regulation time.