Match corresponding to the 13th Round of the Gibraltarian Premier Divsion played on Saturday 2nd January 2016 at the Victoria Stadium at 17:00
Gibraltar United Football Club 1 – 0 Lions Football Club
Gibraltar United Football Club
1 Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin
3 Ashley Perez
19 Brad Power
15 Steffan Cardona
88 Carl Thomas
11 Jared Buhagiar
10 Andrew Lopez (C)
22 Naufal El Andalussi
14 Sean Gilbert
89 Carl Ellul
8 Robert Montovio
Byron Espinosa on for Steffan Cardona
Manolo Nuñez was once again working with a threadbare squad. Players were carrying injuries over the Xmas period. The likes of Parker and Bosio were out through long term injury while several players had picked up knocks while training for this match, Stefan Cumbo among them. All this meant that new signings Ashely Perez and Carl Ellul had to make speedy debuts. Robert and Carl Thomas were back after serving a one match ban and his impressive performance vs Lincoln last time out earned Naufal a well deserved start in center midfield. Steffan Cardona continued his comeback from injury while Jared moved into the left wing. United in a seldom seen 4-4-2 formation.
Lions FC were quick to start dominating possession in the opening stages of the game. Yet very little danger of worth was created with Chino having to only deal with crosses floated in from either wing. United were resolute in defence with new signing, Ashley Perez, making his worth felt instantly. Likewise, Carl Thomas seemed to have returned energised from the Christmas break and begun the match in the imperious way he would conduct himself throughout. Brad and Steffan were communicating very well and were marshalling their line very well. Indeed for all the orange possession of the ball it was only once that hearts where in mouths. The ever dangerous ‘Lata’ dropped a shoulder, and opened up and angle for the shot. Some brave red and white shirt got his body between the flight of the ball and the goal and danger averted.
Both Jared and Sean on the wings gave the defence some respite when we had posession and Andrew and Naufal had the measure of the Lions midfield. Indeed most of the first half action happened in the centre of the park. As Mr Barcelo brought proceedings to a close United were hopeful of getting something in the second half. In fact thats exactly what they did.
The indefatigable Montovio was wily enough to latch onto a clever through ball by debutant Carl Ellul. Though he often ploughs a lonesome furrow upfront he cannot be faulted for his efforts and defenders go to sleep at their own expense. He run straight past Pacheco in the full back position and dribbled past the closing centre half. Ask the keeper, Szpilczynski, bore down on him he toe poked the keeper and squirmed the ball underneath his legs and into the back of the net. The tension with which the game was being played was evident in the celebrations after Robert’s goal. Lions looked stunned! United on the ascendant.
Lions immediately cranked up the pressure and put Gibraltar under the cosh from the restart. Once again crosses rained down on Chino’s goal and he was equal to all of them. He was vicitim of some rough handling and was twice down on the ground having bravely come into the crowd to cancel out any danger. Indeed, his shinning moment came in a spectacular one on one with Nathan Santos in which the Gib Utd keeper came up trumps. Surely National team selectors must have noticed how his performances have improved week in and week out. A nervous bunch of United supporters saw Mr Barcelo give 5 minutes of added time, during which Lions were reduced to 10 men. As the final whistle went United’s exhausted players could revel in three well deserved points. Once again we dug deep, showed guts and character and dictated the tempo of a game whose victory could prove priceless! Gib Utd are up into 7th, leapfrogging Man 62 with a game in hand. Next time out will see a massive 6 pointer of a game versus Glacis United.