Dunbeholden FC advanced to the finals of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) for the very first time, following a dramatic and exciting second-leg semi-final against reigning champions Cavalier FC at Sabina Park Wednesday night.
Dunbeholden went into the match leading 1-0 from the first leg and quickly took the lead in the second leg to hold a comfortable 2-0 advantage, but the champions came roaring back to eventually win the second leg 3-2 and send the game into extra time.
Two more goals in extra time, one for each team, meant the game ended 4-4, which left the match to be decided by penalty kicks.
Dunbeholden then prevailed 4-2 in the shoot-out to end the reign of the champions and set the stage for a new one to be crowned on Sunday, when they come up against former champions Harbour View.
At the end of the roller-coaster semi-final technical director of Dunbeholden, Harold Thomas, stated that his team had satisfied their first objective of the season and added a bonus.
“For us it is a major achievement. We started the season with the intention of going all the way, but we recognise that we have also qualified provisionally for the Concacaf Club Championships, so that is a bonus for us.”
He blamed repeated errors by his team for their opponents getting back in the contest that they had led comfortably.
“We came into the game with a 1-0 lead, went up 2-0, and then we made some silly mistakes. We were making those mistakes from Sunday, leaving that number 20 [Kimani Gibbons] free and he hurt us.”
However, he praised his players for the fight they showed after Cavalier drew level.
“The players dug themselves in. They are fighters and we kept the fighters on the field and the result is as we saw.
“I am proud of them, very, very proud of them. After certain things went wrong, we could have easily just given up, but the fighters were there, and they carried us through.”
Thomas also revealed that his team was prepared to go all the way to penalties and were confident that they would get the job done.
“We did some work on it and we were confident that we had five people who could score. We weren’t sure about the opponents, but we know we had five persons who could score, and we were hoping that it wouldn’t go deeper than that. We are thankful.”
He has promised that the final, which will be against his former team, will be another treat for the fans.
“The game is going to be for the spectators. It’s going to be a good game and the spectators will enjoy it, so come out in your numbers. Of course, you know where my sentiments lie, I am not at Harbour View anymore,” he said with a smile.
The wily veteran paid respect to the opponents he will face in the final.
“They are a good team. They are a team of fighters. They play good football. Occasionally they make mistakes, like they did in the game today [Wednesday], but they can rebound. It’s not a team you give the opportunity to go ahead of you by far.”
As for his team playing in their first final, Thomas says they expect to get the job done.
“There is no pressure, there are just aspirations and goals. These players couldn’t be denied today and I don’t think they can be denied in a final.”
It is his intention to deliver the top prize to the community of Dunbeholden.
“The community of Dunbeholden has waited a long time for something like this, something that will inspire them. It is a poor community. When you pass through, you don’t see the evidence of greatness. This would be a momentous situation for them.”
As to what to expect from the final on Sunday, Thomas said, more of the same.
“You can expect what you have seen all season long and better.”
Dunbeholden made their first appearance in the JPL in 2018.