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Battle for FA Cup final berths

Four teams will be vying for places in the season-ending FA Cup final on April 14, including one team whose last appearance in the final was 61 years ago.

Both BAA and X-Roads face tough semi-finals this weekend against in-form sides Robin Hood and Dandy Town as they aim to overturn big defeats recently to their same opponents.

BAA were thrashed 10-2 by Robin Hood in a league match just two weeks ago, while X-Roads lost 5-2 to Dandy Town the week before, albeit without some key players, including top scorer Donavan Thompson.

Optimism is high in the X-Roads camp ahead of tonight's match at Goose Gosling Field, with Thompson back to lead their attack as he has done all season in netting 22 goals in the league.

He scored four goals when X-Roads beat Town 6-0 in a league game back in November, their biggest win of the season.

“We have a good striker but they have good strikers as well, so that's not an advantage that we have,” coach Farid El Karfa said.

Town, five-times winners of the FA Cup, including three times in four seasons between 2012 and 2015, will be boosted by their recent good form which has seen them climb into third place ahead of a X-Roads side who sit fourth and have qualified for the Dudley Eve Trophy for the first time.

“When you get to the semi-finals you know it is not going to be an easy match,” El Karfa said.

“It's going to be a difficult match but we're going to play our game. We are aware we are playing good opponents.”

El Karfa remained uncertain if Paul Simons would make it back from college overseas in time to play.

He scored the other two X-Roads goals in that November win and found the net four times against St George's in the 5-0 win in the quarter-finals of the FA in February.

“It is not confirmed yet, I will not say yes,” El Karfa replied. “There has been some difficulty with the airlines.

“In the last Dandy Town match, we were missing a lot of players, but it's the FA Cup and every team will give their best and put up a fight. We're going to do the same.

“It is definitely motivation for the players, but we know Dandy Town will be there to win the match as well.”

A draw against Robin Hood in their final league match will be enough for X-Roads to secure a top-four finish. They are hoping for a cup final spot to go with it, possibly against Hood, the holders.

“It's been a reasonable season for us, not as good as it could have been but still very reasonable for a team that was just promoted to the Premier Division,” El Karfa added.

“With all the challenges we've been through, I'm still satisfied with how we played this season. It's still a building process and every season we're getting better.”

The semi-finals will feature the top three goalscorers in the league, Thompson, Keishen Bean, of BAA, and Town's Angelo Simmons, who have 61 league goals between them this season.

BAA, the first winners of the FA Cup in 1955-56 when they beat Southampton Rangers 3-2, have not reached the final since 1958 when they lost to Wellington Rovers.

They meet Hood on Sunday at PHC Field at 4pm, knowing that the cup holders will have a psychological edge after their recent victory.

Hood also won their earlier league encounter with BAA 6-1 and will be firm favourites to reach a third FA Cup final in four seasons.

•A shortage of officials has forced the Bermuda Football Association to bring forward two games scheduled for the final weekend of league matches. The First Division match between Flanagan's Onions and St David's and the Premier Division encounter between Hood and X-Roads will now be played at Goose Gosling Field on Thursday at 7pm and 9pm respectively.

Appearance pending: X-Roads are hoping to have Paul Simons back from college to line up alongside Donavan Thompson in their front line against Dandy Town toniight in the FA Cup semi-finals (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

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Published March 30, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated March 31, 2019 at 2:11 pm)

Battle for FA Cup final berths

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