Match corresponding to the 1st Round of the Gibraltar FA Rock Cup. Played on Sunday 11th January 2015 at 16:00 in the Victoria Stadium.
Gibraltar United Football Club 1 – 0 Leo Football Club
Gibraltar United Football Club
1 Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin
11 Jared Buhagiar
2 Aaron Collado (C)
5 Shane Crisp
88 Carl Thomas
89 Aden Victor
21 Dylan Mañasco
6 William Gracia
16 Steven Gilbert
23 Stefan Cumbo
99 Shane Howe
Brad Power on for Stefan Cumbo
Kaylan Rumbo on for William Gracia
David Gallardo on for Steven Gilbert
Football is back after the enforced break for the Christmas Holidays. Happy New Year to all our fans and readers by the way. The team got its first taste of action in 2015 in the Rock Cup. The senior of the cup competitions and the prize of Europa League football for the eventual winner. A number of changes for this first match of 2015. First of all players now have their shirts with their chosen squad numbers as per the rules set out by the GFA. Secondly there are some notable absentees from the line up. Lee Muscat is finalising his recovery from injury while Captain Andrew Lopez and winger Justin Collado are in Bulgaria representing Gibraltar FUTSAL in the Euro Qualifiers. ‘Chino’ Goldwin would have also been on the plane but for the impending arrival of a baby daughter (Congrats there Chino!) As such Aaron Collado takes on the armband while the scoring load would fall on Shane Howe’s shoulders. Shane Crisp makes his return from injury to take his place at the center of defence.
The weather was unseasonably warm as the match kicked off bang on 4pm. Leo FC started with a defence in deep and two solid ranks of four across the defence and midfield. They clearly wanted to deny our creative players space and hassle our midfield into making mistakes. That said United dominated the early possession and carried the most danger. Charles Santos in the Leo goal made the first of his many saves diving low and fast to his right blocking a Dylan Mañasco rasping shot that was creeping into the net. Soon after United were denied a goal by an offside desicion, the first of 5 this afternoon in a match that saw some dodgy refereeing decisions being made. Leo carried little threat but were intent on trying to balance that lack of technique by imposing a very physical and hard game on Gibraltar United. This accounted for a game the lacked fluidity due to the large number of fouls being committed in the center of the park.
Leo however did have their chances. In a rare break forward a powerful shot flew wide of our post while an accurately placed shot from outside the area was deftly put over the bar by Chino. As the referee brought the first half to a close both teams trudged off in a very tense manner. The game was still at 0-0 and United had had three goals struck off for offside. Players looked nervous and somewhat rusty after the Christmas break.
Leo took to the field quicker that United, manager Aldorino no doubt expressing his displeasure to his players during the break. The second half however followed the same pattern as the first but only this time the Leo players notched up their physicality and the referee, Luque Gonzalez, was at risk of losing control of both the match and the players. Rafael Moreno in particular was at the apex of most of the trouble. United’s players, however, took the bait and both Gracia and Mañasco saw yellow cards for midfield tussles with the Leo players. That said the referee did not see it fit to send off a Leo player who squared up against Dylan with his head. A somewhat liberal interpretation of the rules if one may say!
United were denied twice more by a trigger happy linesman and by some very good keeping by Santos. We were dominating but not finding the crucial breakthrough. Cumbo and Gracia made way for Power and Rumbo. Aldorino, in view of Leo’s lack of bite up field advanced his lines and United were starting to make some headway. Aden Victor, victim of some rough handling by the Leo defenders, began to see more of the ball and began to stretch the Leo right back. Yet it was Chino Goldwin who was to be protagonist of the most unsavoury moment of the match. He bravely covered a long ball being chased by the Leo forward Youssef Louah. There was a coming together and the Leo player appeared to headbutt the keeper in his midriff. Cue a lot of pushing and shoving a yellow being given to the Leo player, surely if the referee thought it was aggression then the colour should have been a different one!
David Gallardo came on with 15 minutes to go and his presence proved to be a match changing moment. with 5 minutes remaining on the clock he went on a mazy run down the left wing. using his pace and long gait he was able to manufacture a peach of a cross that fell ever so kindly to Shane Howe in the middle of the area. Shane had already had two goals disallowed for offside but this time there was no flag or heroics from Santos to stop Howe from netting our eventual winner. The relief was palpable and Leo’s shoulders were seen to visibly droop. Penalties had been so close but in all honesty United dominated both play and possession for the 90 minutes despite the pressure Leo had put on at times. United’s name in the pot for Round 2, will we get a Premier League team? The draw is this coming Wednesday so stay tuned to our social media sites for news on who we face next.
Our next match sees the Reserves in action versus St Joseph’s Reserves on Thursday while United are back in league action on Tuesday 20th January against Hound Dogs FC