Stoppage time goal takes Scholars over Bodden Town

Brandon Ebanks and Rodrick Pearson celebrate the winner.

An opening-week showdown between the past two teams to win the highest league in Cayman Islands football did not disappoint, as it came down to a stoppage time goal to give Scholars International a 2-1 win over Bodden Town Football Club.

In fact, Scholars had to overcome being down a player and a goal at halftime to steal the points from the defending league champions at the Annex Sunday night, 15 October to start their 2017/18 campaign.

“We opened it on a positive note. Every game is very important but this one is massive because it is the first game of the season…and I wasn’t happy with the draw of playing the defending champions, but at the same time, know we have to play everybody,” said Scholars head coach Colin ‘Dougie’ Rowe.

Bodden Town FC came into the game ready to show they’re up for defending their title and last week’s 4-2 loss in the CIFA Charity Shield was just a mirage but the luck of the draw meant they would face one of their toughest rivals to get the campaign rolling.

Both teams headed toward goal early, eager for an advantage. Bodden Town’s Karl Solomon was just off the mark in the 8th and six minutes later, Scholars’ Dwight Dunk had a chance but his shot was high.

In the 25th, Ron Christopher Douglas – in his return for Scholars – had his shot denied by Ramon Sealy, who was aided by defenders on the rebound. Two minutes later, Sealy made light work of a close-range header with a one-handed grab that got spectators into a buzz.

Rolly Bodden, who had been busy up front for Scholars came within inches of getting his head to a cross in the 43rd that would surely have given Sealy trouble.

The drama came in in the 44th minute when during a scramble in front the Scholars goal, the ball came into contact with Oneil Taylor’s hand before getting into the net. After deliberation, the goal was called off and Taylor given a straight red card and a penalty awarded to Bodden Town. Theron Wood converted the kick to give the champs a 1-0 lead at the break.

When play resumed, despite being a man down, Scholars attackers continued to ask questions of the Bodden Town defence in search of an equaliser. On the other end of the pitch, netminder Jermaine Brown was forced to step up and deny a promising attack from Kareem James with 15 minutes on the clock.

A brilliant through ball from Rolly Bodden saw Rodrick Pearson providing the goal to bring the score level with 10 minutes to go. The Scholars supporters were brought to life and kept urging their guys on.

As the three minutes of stoppage ticked away, it looked as though the points would be split. That was until Bodden again set up a streaking Brandon Ebanks, who came on as a substitute, to deliver the knockout punch in the 92nd and give Scholars the hard-fought victory.

“Players played up to expectations and I drilled it in them that every game is a hard game. No matter who we play, even the lowest team, it is going to be a hard game and they prevailed. And with 10 men, I have to be pleased [with the outcome],” Rowe told as his players and supporters celebrated the victory.

After winning back-to-back titles, last season saw Scholars finish third in the table behind Bodden Town and Elite SC. Rowe is ready to take his club back to the top of the table when the season is finished. “Our objective is to win. We might buck our toe down the road but our objective is to win as many games as possible,” he said.

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