All to play for when top-flight football resumes

BTFC's Ricoh Brown attacks the goal against Elite.

When Cayman’s best footballers return to the pitch in two weeks, they’ll resume the 2016-17 Cayman Premier League season with much to play for, as it shapes up to be an exciting five months ahead.

There’s no clear-cut favourite to win the title with all eight clubs still having a dozen league matches remaining, not including the CIFA President’s Cup and the FA Cup. Bodden Town FC and Elite SC have jostled for the top spot for much of the campaign but the top half of the table is separated by a total of five points.

After being tied on points with rivals Elite with one game to go before the Christmas break, Bodden Town holds a two-point edge. Both clubs have each lost only one game in the month prior to the break but Bodden Town managed nudge ahead in the standings after Elite split the points with third-placed Academy SC on 4 December.

Bodden Town FC has 19 points from six wins, one draw and two losses. It’s lead comes courtesy solid team play from the entire squad. Elite SC has 17 points from five wins, two draws and two losses, just ahead of Academy SC with 16 points. Academy had just as many wins as Elite through the first two months of the season but suffered one more loss (five wins, one draw, three losses). Consistent play could see Academy’s youthful squad in contention if current form holds up. The club is unbeaten in their last four league matches with three wins and a draw during that stretch.

Scholars season is starting to take shape after a slow start.

Defending league champions Scholars International, who along with Elite are preparing for the CFU Club Championships, have recovered from a slow start and are within striking distance of the leaders. Scholars are fourth with 14 points and a record of four wins, two draws and three losses in league play and have only lost once in the past four outings.

Latinos FC, which dominated the First Division last season, has made a credible showing during the club’s first top-flight season since 2009. Latinos is tied with Sunset FC on 10 points but are a spot ahead in the standings due to a better goal difference. Latinos have only lost three of their first nine fixtures and have developed a knack of sharing points from their four draws, as they did against Scholars on 4 December. The club also has two wins.

Sunset FC is sixth in the standings with a record of three wins, one draw and five losses and has the upset of the year so far with a 4-2 shocker over Elite on 20 November. Cayman Athletic SC has improved as the season progressed but remain in seventh place. Two of its three wins have come in the last month of play and was in with a chance against Bodden Town on 4 December before falling 2-1 for its sixth loss from nine games this season.

Roma United, which started the season with back-to-back wins over Scholars and Sunset has been in free-fall ever since, failing to get the taste of victory ever since and has plummeted to the bottom of the standings. A scoreless draw against Bodden Town on 6 November brought the only other point for Roma this season, having lost six, including three straight going into the break.

Jonah Ebanks leads the league with six goals.

A few notes: Jonah Ebanks of Academy SC is the leading goal scorer with six tallies, one ahead of Elite forward Dwayne ‘Gaza’ Wright. Scholars have had the stingiest defence, surrendering only seven goals through nine games. Scholars’ Jermaine Brown has recorded four clean sheets so far. Elite, led by Wright, Raul Rodriguez and Miguel Simms, have scored 18 times, four more than Academy, which is next with 14.

Elite’s strong showing has been despite the absence of regulars Wesley Robinson, Abijah Rivers and Andres Ruiz for several weeks due to injury. Their presence in the weeks ahead should bolster the squad for the homestretch, and possibly the CFU tournament, depending on when they return to full health.

The next round of Cayman Premier League fixtures on 15 January are: Latinos FC vs Sunset FC, Cayman Athletic vs Elite SC, Scholars International vs Bodden Town FC, and Academy SC vs Roma United.

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