Match corresponding to Round 1 of the Gibraltarian 2nd Division. Played at the Victoria Stadium 17-9-2014
Gibraltar United Football Club 4 – 0 Gibraltar Phoenix
Gibraltar United Football Club
13 Joe Borg
3 Carl Thomas
17 Daniel Wahnon
5 Shane Crisp
4 Kenneth Chipolina
11 Jared Buhagiar
6 William Gracia
8 Dylan Mañasco
19 Brad Power
7 Justin Collado
10 Andrew Lopez (C)
Stefan Cumbo on for Shane Crisp
Lee Muscat on for Jared Buhagiar
Sean Gilbert on for Justin Collado
A dull, overcast day, a harbinger of the end of summer saw the resurgence of Gibraltar United as a football club in its own right at the Victoria Stadium. Manager, Randal Aldorino, adopted a change of system from what was being used in pre season and paid off to spectacular effect. Albeit it was a very slow start to the game as both teams sought to settle those early season nerves and find their feet on the pitch. Nonetheless it was a very emotional day for Gibraltar United fans young and old that turned out in force to support the team. Illustrious names from our Past like Adolfo Ramirez and Eric Abudarham joined players, officials and supporters in cheering the team on. Indeed National Team Manager Allen Bula was seen in the stands.
The first half proved a dull affair with some Phoenix probing and Collado taking most of United’s danger down the wing. Indeed he produced the first moment of magic. A burst of lightning speed left the defender behind and a viciously whipped in cross was blazed over the bar at point blank range by Jared Buhagiar. Shane Crisp suffered a suspected broken nose in an inopportune clash of heads on the stroke of half time. Aldorino was forced to bring on a substitute (Cumbo) and it proved to be a decisive one later on in the game. We wish Shane (Warrior) a speedy recovery! Joe Borg made an excellent save to prevent Phoenix scoring directly from a corner kick in a first half in which hard tackling and hard graft where clearly evident in the pitch. William Gracia and Dylan Mañasco excelling at this in centre mid with the tireless Carl Thomas and Kenneth Chipolina supporting from the full back positions. Daniel Wahnon showed his experience by successfully marshalling a make shift defence in the second half.
United came off the blocks quickly in the second half. Striker Lee Muscat replaced Jared Buhagiar and once again Randal played his magical hand. Muscat had an instant effect adding pace and power to the front line and his presence seemed to unsettle the Phoenix defence. Some neat play found the ball at Stefan Cumbo’s feet. A powerful pile driver to the left of the Gib Phoenix keeper left him with no chance. As the net ruffled as the ball settled into the back of the goal, Cumbo wheeled away to celebrate in front of the supporters. Gibraltar United’s first official league goal had been scored.
The goal spurred United into action and there was clearly a spring in the step. United attacks flooded forward as Phoenix struggled to contain United’s momentum. Credit to them they tried to counter attack when they could and almost scored with a delightful chip. Thankfully it sailed over the bar. Not so for United and Brad Power in particular. Some powerful play from the attacking midfielder, who was playing in a more withdrawn position due to Crisp’s injury, meant he found some space to the left of the Phoenix goal. Exhibiting great composure, he lifted his head and dinked the ball over the keeper with the most sublime of lobs. Despite the good natured cries of ‘cross’ from the stands there is no doubting the quality of the strike. 2-0 and United were coasting.
Tackles kept on flying in with a number of bookings for both sides as Phoenix fought to get back into the game, indeed Carl Thomas saw red late in the half for a second yellow. However with a predator like Muscat on the pitch, the Phoenix would not rise from the ashes like its mythical namesake. He neatly tucked away a penalty after the referee gave a deliberate handball in the area. A Phoenix defender unable to cope with the pace of Andrew Lopez’s cross from the wide areas. The game now well and truly beyond Phoenix was wrapped up by Muscat getting his second of the game a few minutes before the final whistle, feeding off a delightful Sean Gilbert pass.
Overall a fair reflection of what was seen in the second half. United top of the league for a few hours at least. Team morale was high but manager Randal Aldorino was keen to stress following the match that the hard work had only started and the road would be a long and arduous. A massive shout out to those players who didn’t make the team squad and where there supporting their colleagues. It gave a massive lift to those on the pitch. We hope to see as many supporters in the stands in our second game against Gibraltar Scorpions on Monday 29th September.