Hood cruise into FA Cup final
Robin Hood 3 X-Roads 0
Robin Hood reached their third straight FA Cup final with a comfortable win over X-Roads at Wellington Oval yesterday.
Hood, the 2015-2016, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 winners, held a slim 1-0 lead midway through the first half over X-Roads, the beaten finalists last year, courtesy of Aaron Nelson's first-half strike.
However, the match hung in the balance after the restart when X-Roads, with the wind in their backs, had a good period of pressure before substitute Shakir Smith's second goal killed off any hopes of a fightback.
Goalkeeper Antoine Russell capped the victory with an added-time penalty which he converted with the final kick of the game. Hood will play league champions North Village in the final on April 5.
“It's good to get back into the final, we knew it was going to be tough, especially because of the wind which played to their strength,” said John Barry Nusum, coach of Hood, who made three changes to the team that suffered their first loss in the league to Devonshire Cougars last weekend.
“I knew they were going to put a lot of pressure on us, especially in the second half when the ball was holding up a little bit.
“In the first half, the ball was going out of bounds, but in the second half, it held up more.
“Our midfielders made sure they got that second ball under control and they did a good job. I think Liam [Evans], Phil [Parsons] and Colin [Ryan] were tremendous today.”
The blustery conditions made it difficult for both teams in the first half as they struggled to handle the wind.
However, Hood still managed to break the deadlock on the half-hour when defender Jaylon Bather headed Dashun Cooper's goal kick back into the X-Roads half to send Nelson through down the right before beating the goalkeeper with his shot from an angle inside the box.
Hood suffered a setback a minute before half-time when captain Lejaun Simmons limped off with a recurrence of the leg injury he suffered against Cougars last weekend. Smith came on to replace him in attack.
X-Roads, as expected, offered more in the second half as they fought back, looking to exploit Donavan Thompson's pace on the long balls forward. They had a sustained period of pressure as they kept Hood on the back foot, battling hard for the equaliser.
A shot from Thompson bounced awkwardly in front of goalkeeper Russell, but otherwise he was mostly untroubled behind his back line.
Hood doubled their lead against the run of play when Smith collected a pass and got some space on defender Chioke Hayward before slotting past Cooper.
Deep into stoppage time Hood added a third goal for good measure when Tyrell Burgess was penalised for a foul on former X-Roads player, Parsons. Immediately, Russell ran towards the halfway line shouting “I'll take it” before calmly placing his spot kick to Cooper's left.
“For us, we wanted to get some trophies this year and we haven't got any, so it gives us an opportunity against Village, one of the top teams,” Nusum added. “That's what you want to see, the top two teams in the league going head to head in the FA Cup.
“We're going to try to finish the league with some wins and hopefully take some momentum into the cup final and see what happens.”
Hood: Nelson 30, Smith 75, Russell pen 90+4
Robin Hood (4-3-3): A Russell — C Castle, J Bather, D Williams, A Bell — L Evans, P Parsons, C Ryan, — L Simmons (sub: S Smith, 44), A Nelson (sub: C Ricca, 87), T Goater (sub: E Outerbridge, 81). Substitute not used: J Nusum.
X-Roads (4-3-3): D Cooper — C Hayward, K Wilkinson, M Hill, J Furbert — T Burgess, C McDowall (sub: S Cannonier, 84), T Daniels — D Thompson, P Simons, K Brangman (sub: P Richardson, 78). Substitutes not used: R Beek, K Talbot, O Williams. Booked: McDowall.
Referee: L Cann.