Game corresponding to the 15th round of the Gibraltarian 2nd Division and played on Thursday 26th February at 20:00 at the Victoria Stadium.
Gibraltar United Football Club 1 – 1 Europa Point Football Club
Gibraltar United Football Club
1 Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin
11 Jared Buhagiar
3 Lee Buhagiar
2 Aaron Collado
88 Carl Thomas
26 Evan Coleing
25 Mark Casciaro
21 Dylan Mañasco
7 Justin Collado
10 Andrew Lopez (C)
9 Lee Muscat
Aden Victor on for Evan Coleing
Kaylan Rumbo on for Dylan Mañasco
A hectic week that has seen our first defeat in the league and a managerial resignation. Ian Mañasco was making his debut as manager against fellow early pace setters Europa Point FC. Europa were the only team to have taken points from United in the league following a 1-1 draw back in October. Much has changed since then. A drop of form saw them 8 points adrift of the first position but they have found form recently and have been involved in some matches with very scandalous scorelines! That said Ian put out his first 11 as manager. Lee Muscat and Dylan Mañasco were back after serving two match bans, the latter replacing a banned Aziz Aitlachen. Evan Coleing, after making some very impressive showings from the bench and in Cup Games, got his first start for the club relegating the ever reliable Aden Victor to the bench. Elsewhere, its as we where as United sought to bounce back from last week’s controversial loss.
It was a very tight opening to the match. Both defences wary of the opposition’s hitmen. Muscat was back and Europa Point have, in Robert Montovio a player with plenty of Premier League experience. United were dominating the early stages of possession and Muscat in particular looked hungry and eager for the ball. Indeed it was a product of this possession that granted United with the first chance of the game but Mark Casciaro could not get a clean enough contact of the ball that sliced wide of the mark. Long range efforts were a trademark of the first half with both teams trying from range but not finding the target. Europa Point were clearly playing the containing game content to break up United’s attacks and then strike on the counter. The most controversial moment of the half came roughly on 30 minutes when the Europa Point manager was sent to the stands by ref Glenn Gilbert after former’s relentless hackling of lines man Andy Parody.
The lack of goal mouth action was solved in an instant by two classy shows of power and skill. Lee Muscat took matters into his own hands and collected the ball just past the half way line. Cue a Muski trademark run. He certainly resembles a charging tank when he gets the ball and rumbles forward. The defenders were visibly nervous as Lee is not only blessed with sublime skill but also immense strength. As defenders threw themselves at him, he attracted them like moths to a flame, he cleverly put through Mark Casciaro who had cleverly followed the run in. Mark then also showed off his skill by shuffling the ball past the last defender and the keeper leaving himself with a tap in. 1-0 with 3 minutes to go to half time, a perfect time to get a goal.
Half time saw the introduction of Europa striker Hulk, he of ‘camilla’ fame of the first game. Despite his imposing frame he certainly plays a fair game and enjoys the physical challenge. Europa threw more caution to the wind as they knew they needed a goal. But the play tended to stagnate in the center of the field as passes pinged across all over the park. Europa Point had their first chance but Garcia blasted wide. It was to be Hulk however that nabbed their equaliser in a defensive mix up that allowed the Spanish striker to score his goal unmolested on the 53rd minute. It was game on and an improvement of the first half as both teams went at it full throttle knowing that this match was an important one between direct rivals. Europa player Angelrei then stupidly got himself sent off in 5 reckless minutes when he got booked twice.
United pressed hard trying to make their extra man count but credit to Europa Point in holding steadfastly. A tiring Coleing gave way to Aden Victor and he was soon to have a gilt edged chance when Andrew Lopez fed him a ball on the edge of the D. He powered in a well directed, low shot that went straight at the keeper. A inch either way and the story of the match could’ve been different. Said keeper also pulled off a tremendous save, diving sharply to his left from a Muscat shot. A move made moot by an offside flag. United couldn’t find a way through and Europa always a threat on the counter, indeed a lucky ricochet even spun off the post with Chino beaten. The ref’s whistle brought the match to an end with a share of the spoils. United go top courtesy of goal difference with Angels still to play. Still with a game in hand and the match versus Angels FC next week, the league is still in our hands.