Hood continue dominance in FA Cup
Robin Hood 3 X-Roads 2
Robin Hood retained their FA Cup final title in an exciting final yesterday at the National Stadium where all five goals came in a frantic first half.
X-Roads had a nervous opening period in their first FA Cup final appearance, going two goals down before reducing the deficit. They had college students Paul Simons, Aaron Spencer and Jarye Bean back to boost their ranks, with Simons and Spencer both starting.
However, Hood’s extra experience showed even after losing captain Lejaun Simmons in the 39th minute because of a thigh injury, just five minutes after scoring what turned out to be the winning goal.
Simmons also had a hand in the opening goal in the third minute when he broke through down the right flank and crossed into the box where Shakir Smith beat goalkeeper Dashun Cooper from six yards.
Another run by Simmons almost produced a second goal for Hood minutes later but Tomiko Goater shot just wide of the far post. Hood were posing some early problems for the X-Roads defence.
Goater made amends for his earlier miss when he made it 2-0 midway through the half with a shot from the left corner of the box into the bottom far corner after the X-Roads defence failed to clear the danger.
He almost extended the lead minutes later when he hit a shot across goal and just past the far post. Eventually X-Roads began their fightback, reducing the deficit in the 29th minute when top scorer Donavan Thompson finished well to make it 2-1.
Captain Patrick Richardson sent him through down the right side and Thompson showed his strength and pace to keep going after goalkeeper Dale Eve came off his line to make a challenge. From the narrowest of angles, and with Dominique Williams positioned at the near post, Thompson squeezed the ball home for his 25th goal of the season in all competitions.
X-Roads’s defensive woes continued five minutes later, though, when slack defending down the right gave Simmons enough space to get into the box before scoring past Cooper from an angle.
Hood suffered a setback when Simmons went off injured five minutes later, to be replaced by Casey Castle as Antwan Russell took over the captain’s armband.
The first half had one more interesting twist in the closing moments when X-Roads cut the lead again with Richardson getting another assist.
This time he flighted in a cross from a free kick on the left side and the ball glanced off the head of Simons and past the goalkeeper who tried to punch the ball clear.
Goater went close again to scoring for Hood, this time from a free kick on the left that hit the crossbar with goalkeeper Cooper at full stretch. After that X-Roads enjoyed a good period of pressure as they battled hard to find the equaliser.
Eve made a good block at the near post to keep out a shot from Simons after he created some space inside the box. Then he fired over the top from a free kick as he and Thompson kept running at the Hood defence.
Hood made a second substitution because of injury as Castle was replaced by Aaron Nelson. They managed to hold on for the win which gives them their third FA Cup title in four seasons. It may also be the final appearance for Antwan Russell who is still contemplating retirement at the age of 32.
“I haven’t made a final decision; I’ll take the summer off and evaluate where I go from here,” he said. “I was thinking about it last year; I’ve been playing with a lot on my mind. It’s been hard losing my brother Tokia and friend Muzzy [Mazhye Burchall]. It’s been hard to push on, but I know they would want me to, so I’m doing my best to play for them. Muzzy was like a little brother to me.”
Russell added: “The years of playing are catching up to me, some days I feel up to it, other days not. It’s just different playing without my brother. I wouldn’t mind coming off the bench next season and helping a young striker come through, like other strikers helped me.”
Hood dedicated the rest of their season to Burchall who died in a bike accident last September at the age of 20.
Hood:Smith 3, Goater 21, Simmons 34
X-Roads: Thompson 29, Simons 45
Robin Hood (4-3-3): D Eve — J Pereira, J Bather, D Williams, T Sabir — P Parsons, T Goater, C Ryan — A Russell, S Smith (sub: E Outerbridge, 90), L Simmons (sub: C Castle, 39) (sub: A Nelson 76). Substitutes not used: T Bean, D Andrade, C Ricca, L Symonds. Booked: Bather, Pereira.
X-Roads (4-3-3): D Cooper — L Simmons, J Furbert, K Wilkinson, A Burgess — P Richardson, T Daniels, N Richardson (sub: J Sanchez, 77) — D Thompson, A Spencer (sub: J Bean, 62), P Simons. Substitutes not used: R Beek, K Talbot, S Thomas, T Lowe, J Minks, A Heyliger, Q Darrell. Booked: N Richardson, L Simmons.
Referee: T Simons.