Match corresponding to the 9th round of the Gibraltarian Second Division and played on Sunday 14th December 2014 at the Victoria Stadium
Gibraltar United Football Club 3 – 2 Mons Calpe Sports Club
Gibraltar United Football Club
1 Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin
15 Carl Thomas
3 Kenneth Chipolina
4 Aaron Collado
11 Jared Buhagiar
16 Steven Gilbert
8 Dylan Mañasco
14 Stefan Cumbo
7 Justin Collado
10 Andrew Lopez (C)
9 Shane Howe
William Gracia on for Stefan Cumbo
Aden Victor on for Steven Gilbert
Kaylan Rumbo on for Dylan Mañasco
A proper winter’s day with rain, wind and cold was the scene for this most dramatic of encounters, indeed days in the 2nd Division (one could say a local Super Sunday). United played the early 4pm game against Mons Calpe while fellow front runners Europa Point had the 8pm slot against 3rd placed Gibraltar Scorpions. Randal Aldorino had Carl Thomas back fit after some hamstring issues and as such resorted to a back 4. Willy Gracia dropped to the bench and so did Aden Victor who was replaced by Shane Howe making his first league start against his former team. Elsewhere it was as we where.
United, as is their want, started very quickly off the blocks. A clever through ball by Cumbo was met with blistering pace by Justin Collado cutting in from the wing. He took one deft touch and set it up nicely for himself to finish. Unfortunately the ball whizzed over the cross bar by a mere centimeter. United were showing their teeth and mettle from the off! Yet it was a false dawn as Mons Calpe where here to give us a hard game. The match descended in one long pitch battle in the middle of the park that threatened to get out of the hands of match official Glenn Gilbert on more than one occasion. Both sets of players set about each other with gusto and aplomb. The yellow card was dished out on numerous occasions, though as was to be expected there was a fair amount of play acting by those in white and unfortunately some of our players fell for the bait. Was such an illustrious name as Mons Clape going to be dragged through the dirt by some undeserving of wearing it?
There was little goal mouth action for most of the first half. Shots on target came from distance that both Chino and Payas in the Mons Calpe goal dealt with calmly despite the weather and slippery ball. The breakthrough came about 30 minutes into the half. A corner floated in from the right wing by Andrew Lopez was met by a bullet header from left back Jared Buhagiar rushing into the area. The well directed header rushed past a flailing Payas and into the net. The emotion with which Jared celebrated his goal was indicative of the tension with which the game was being played. A few minutes before half time Dylan Mañasco was a victim of a clash of heads that left him with a bloody nose and a blood spattered shirt. As the rain continued to pour down the ref blew for half time with United holding to their slender lead.
Dylan walked back on to the pitch as the second half started. Nose still bloody but a change of shirt as per the rulebook! The match continued in the same vein for the first few minutes though and several United players were increasingly frustrated with the referee and some of his decisions. Indeed it seemed he was much quicker to admonish the United players leaving the Mons ones with more of a leash to play on. Mons’ equaliser was really our own fault for a lack of concentration in defending a set play. A long ball found Lupi unmarked in the centre of the area, leaving Chino stranded as he powered a header past him. Almost immediately Chino was forced to make a save from a shot by Pillo. United were indeed under the cosh and at times looked indecisive and nervous. Both Cumbo and Gilbert were taken off by Aldorino and Victor and Gracia taking to the field, certainly a precautionary change as Cumbo on a yellow was being targeted and bracketed by the Mons players.
Yet nerves were calmed when Payas in the Mons goal mad a hash of a long ball that seemed to hang in the air for a long time. He rushed out to meet the ball but his center half, marking Willy Gracia, was in his way. He fumbled and though Willy was oblivious to the where the ball landed, Shane Howe was there to pounce and toe poke the ball passed the helpless keeper. That 3 in 3 for Shane, having also netted for the Reserves earlier in the week. A great reward for a player that ran his socks off today. Indeed the United players all ran their socks off aware that Mons were here to give us as staunch a game as they could. The nerves in the stands were palpable and were taken to fraying point when Mons Calpe equalised for a second time. Once again slack marking at the far post from a set play meant a carbon copy of the first goal. Chino left alone facing a player heading the ball unmarked.
United supporters in the stands roared their team on and as tempers of the field soared so did the frustration with the referee, which in all honesty had a very bad game. Mons pressed forwards for the winner while United were caught on a number of times in close offside calls. Yet it is our bloodied warrior Dylan Mañasco that has the final say in this tale. In a characteristic burst forward he bravely charged into the area. Payas-Carlin charged out from his goal like a raging bull and felled Dylan. Clear penno! What was less clear was the ref’s decision to only brandish a yellow when it was just Dylan, the keeper and a beckoning goal. United players surrounded the ref but the decision was a clear one. Up stepped Andrew Lopez, an epitomy of calmness at the centre of the raging storm. As Mons players tried to throw off his concentration he calmly stood by the spot awaiting the ref’s whistle. He sent Payas one way, the ball the other and thus celebrated his recent good news of impending paternity with a goal. Indeed a 4th in two games and Andrew has taken well to taking on the scoring burden in the absence of Lee Muscat.
There was still one more heart in mouth moment as, once again, a far post header flew wide of the United goal. The sound of the referee’s whistle as music to our ears. The way both players and fans celebrated was testament to the tension lived in the match. Yet 3 extremely valuable points that puts all the pressure on Europa Point who play 3rd placed Gibraltar Scorpions in the 8pm kick off tonight.
‘Vi et Animo, Ad Victoriam’