Match corresponding to the 24th Round of the Gibraltarian Second Division and played on Thursday 21st May 2015 at the Victoria Stadium at 18:15
Gibraltar United Football Club 4 – 1 Hound Dogs Football Club
Gibraltar United Football Club
1 Andrew Lopez (c)
11 Jared Buhagiar
3 Lee Buhagiar
2 Aaron Collado
69 Adrian Lopez
99 Shane Howe
21 Dylan Mañasco
22 Aziz Aitlachen
88 Carl Thomas
23 Stefan Cumbo
9 Lee Muscat
Steven Gilbert on for Stefan Cumbo
David Gallardo on for Carl Thomas
Evan Coleing on for Shane Howe
Yes regular readers your eyes are not deceiving you, forward Andrew Lopez was keeping goal for this match. Its not a typo and the world has not gone mad. Both regular keepers were unavailable for the match today. Joe Borg was away on European Cup hockey duties while Chino was serving a one match ban for accumulation of yellow cards. Andrew, leading by example, stepped up to the plate and put his reputation as a decent shot stopper on the line, no pun intended. Elsewhere continued absences due to suspensions caused several changes. Carl Thomas was pushed forward into right wing while Stefan Cumbo made a welcome return to the first XI supporting Muscat up front. Adrian Lopez , after impressing in the reserves, was at right back while Shane Howe continued his run of starts. Also great to see Shane Crisp making the bench after 90 successful minutes for the Reserves after an injury plagued season.
The game started tensely, Gib Utd players fully aware of the significance of this Terrific Tuesday of Second Division Football. With one linesman turning up late it wasn’t the most auspicious of starts for Officialdom though! Utd started well dominating the ball and passing it with assurance and confidence. A green and black wall faced them however. Hound Dogs had set up stall to dig the trenches deep and launch quick counter attacks via the avenue of the long ball. Yet with players like Aziz on the pitch even the tightest of locks can be picked by a clever pass. Indeed it was him that set Jared free down the wing on an overlapping run but the latter’s cross was gathered up by Carcano in the Hound Dogs goal. Lee Muscat had an effort soon after but Carcano was equal to the weak shot sent his way.
It was all United. A Buhagiar cross was almost bundled into the Hound Dogs goal by a defender and chances were falling to most of United’s forward players. But as has been the case in recent matches we were finding it hard to crack in the first goal. Shane Howe’s excellent dribble and cross found Stefan, his shot was equal to the cross but once again Carcano was able to parry the effort. Was the goalie going to have one of those games? Unfortunately for Stefan it would be the last contribution he would make as he limped off with a hamstring injury soon after. Steven Gilbert coming on to replace him.
The deadlock was broken by Muscat. His powerful run into the area could only be stopped by a foul. Though it was just inside the box referee, Mr Newman (who had a good game talking to players rather than digging unnecessarily for yellows) had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. A stonewaller! Muski, as confident as always, prowled up to the ball and gave Carcano no chance. League goal number 20 for the prolific striker and United nerves calmed. Carcano had been beaten and the domination the team were exhibiting would surely mean 3 points. Well football wouldn’t be the game it is if it didn’t go against the grain. United’s lead lasted 8 minutes. In a rare foray forward John Luke Olivera equalised from a corner, to be honest he had the Freedom of the Gibraltar United Area and shot with not a defender in sight to pressure him. Stand in keeper Lopez, who’d dealt with crosses very well, had no chance really. Silence in the stands and wry smiles on the Angels players watching in the stands. Muscat clipped the post just before half time to get supporters of their seats but no cigar for the Number 9 on this occasion.
United came out in a determined fashion. Muscat, Howe and Aziz with an absolute peach of shot had chances within 8 minutes of the restart. Having exhausted all supplies of pipitas in the previous two games United fans resorted to chewing on well worn out finger nails as Hound Dogs held on grimly for dear life. If other teams brought the credibility of the Division into question with dodgy forfeits, our opponents today deserve the credit for giving United a staunch fight. However no levee can keep a deluge at bay forever, and it was Jared Buhagiar who buried a delightful ball from Muscat with gusto and aplomb! His wild celebrations on the pitch were mirrored in the stands as jubilant supporters celebrated wildly. No more wry smiles from the Angles contingent as they made their way to the changing rooms to prepare for their 8pm kick off.
The Hound Dogs had finally had their bark silenced and their bite muffled! Seeking a win by a larger margin, Mañasco threw in David Gallardo. David was man of the match in our last Reserve outing netting two and his presence is testament that hard work in the Reserves gets you your chance. Indeed it was David who finally put daylight between the sides with a neat little finish into the bottom corner. 3-1 and cruising. He added a second a few minutes later after heading in an Aziz freekick. 4-1 the result was safe. Yet there was time and opportunity to get more. Evan Coleing, who had replaced a tiring Shane Howe (as usual Shane worked hard for his team), added a spectacular miss to the many this season (we should perhaps consider a Bloopers DVD) as he missed from inches out as he blazed a cross over the bar. The less said the better for Evan, who took the banter of his team mates in good cheer! Mr Newman brought proceedings to a close soon after. A priceless three points that were worth their weight in goal at around 21:45 when Europa Point beat Angels FC 2-1 to leave United clear at the top by a point with two to play. 180 minutes of frayed nerves to come.
‘Vi Et Animo, Ad Victoriam‘