Roma United beat champs to start season

Peter Rose and Jorge Escobar Murillo make a play on the ball.

Roma United seized the opportunity after they were awarded a questionable penalty in their 2016-17 season opener in the Cayman Premier League to beat defending champions Scholars International on Sunday night.

From the opening whistle, the pace was brisk and the tackles hard from both sides in what shaped up to be an exciting encounter at Ed Bush Sports Complex.

The net minders were kept busy as the ball found its way toward both goals early. Roma United forward Peter Rose attacked toward the Scholars goal and went down in the 18-yard box, drawing the referee’s whistle.

Gawayne Speed and Peter Rose celebrate the goal.

Gawayne Speed and Peter Rose celebrate the goal.

Despite protestations from the Scholars players on the pitch and bench, as well as from spectators in the stands, the penalty was awarded. Up stepped Gawayne Speed, who capitalized to give Roma United a 1-0 lead they would not surrender.

Jamaar Dickens has a decent chance to draw level for Scholars late in the first half but a superb kick-save from Chase Smith denied him. The rebound shot went over the cross bar.

Referee Shurwayne Roberts was kept active as the intensity of the match failed to subside. There were several stoppages in the second half as players went down, including a prolonged break when the Roma United keeper complained of leg cramps. This drew the ire of Scholars and their supporters, who claimed this was an unreasonably long delay with Roma ahead late.

Thomas (20) pushed the pace late for Scholars.

Thomas (20) pushed the pace late for Scholars.

A golden chance presented itself to Scholars late but a split-second hesitation from Carson Fagan, who was thinking he was in a give-and-go situation with Maynor Rodriguez Zuniga, squandered the opportunity to equalize. Fagan passed the ball into empty space, surely thinking his teammate was advancing. A direct attempt on goal was what the doctor prescribed and what his coaches on the touchline expected.

Terrence Thomas, with fresh legs after subbing on, was energetic for the champs. In one instance, he weaved his way through the Roma defense and went down in the box but no penalty was called.

Another chance came when Rodrick Pearson struck one from the top of the box but the shot sailed over the crossbar.

Roma United held on for full points, as the Scholars International began their quest for a third straight premier league crown with a loss. Both teams return to Ed Bush next Sunday. Roma plays Sunset FC at 4:45 p.m., while Scholars faces Latinos FC at 7:00 p.m.

In other action on the opening week of the Cayman Premier League, Academy SC beat Sunset FC 2-0; Bodden Town FC beat Elite SC 2-1; and Cayman Athletic beat Latinos 1-0.

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