By Susil Premalal
Police Sports Club regained the Vantage FA Cup 2019 after a gap of 11 years when they beat Saunders 6 – 5 on a penalty shootout after the final played under lights at Racecourse ground ended in a 1 – 1 tie in regulation time.
This is only the second time in the history of the championship that Police, captained by Chamika Kumara, has emerged champions having first won the title in 2008.
Saunders, who lost to Army 4 – 2 also after a penalty tie-breaker in 2018, finished runner-up for the second consecutive year.
Police had the better of the exchanges early in the game coming close to scoring on three occasions while their goalkeeper Mahendran Dinesh made a brilliant save to deny Saunders in the 15th minute. The match was played at a pedestrian pace in the first half as both sides defended well.
After a scoreless first session, Police took the lead in the 50th minute when M.J.R. Mohamed volleyed home after a sweeping move. Saunders got the equaliser five minutes later when Sundaraj Niresh rifled home from the spot.
Saunders marshalled by Chameera tested the Police defence consistently but failed to beat the Police custodian.
When it came to penalties, after the first two kicks were successful, Saunders were heartbroken when W.S.L.T. Rangana's shot was saved by Dinesh, who won the Golden Glove award for his heroics. Police converted all their six shots to bask in glory.
The Golden Boot went to N.W.M. Thahir.
Sundaraj Niresh of Saunders was adjudged the Most Valuable Player while M.J.R. Mohamed of Police was chosen as the Most Emerging Player.