Match corresponding to the second round of the GFA Rock Cup and played on Wednesday 10th February at 20:30.
Gibraltar United Football Club 2 – 1 Red Imps Football Club
Gibraltar United Football Club
1 Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin
3 Ashley Perez
19 Brad Power
26 Jaydan Catania
88 Carl Thomas
11 Jared Buhagiar
6 Dexter Panzavechia
21 Duane Robba
24 ‘Pitu’ Anes
7 Evan Green
10 Andrew Lopez (C)
Carl Ellul on for Duane Robba
Sean Gilbert on for Dexter Panzavechia
Aziz Aitlachen on for Evan Green
Following on from the league defeat to Angels on Saturday, attention now turns to the Rock Cup. Premier Division teams get a bye into the second round and we drew 2nd Division team Red Imps in the draw. We played Red Imps twice last year and beat them 3-1 in the first game and drew 0-0 in the second. A result that almost put a blow into our title aspirations. Though there are only 4 survivors from those games in tonight’s game, Manolo Nunez is taking no chances on a banana skin and fields a full strength side. Ashley Perez earns a start after his impact from the bench against Angels and Andrew makes a return to the side after missing out due to injury. A shift to a 4-2-3-1 formation indicates a more attacking mentality but no one is thinking that the tie is going to be a walkover with Red Imps trying their best to cause a cup upset.
This was a real cup tie and let no one tell you otherwise. 21 local Gibraltarian players on the field. A decent referee that let play flow, talked to players and explained his decisions and a 2nd Division team ready to take the Premier team to the wire. Red Imps showed their hunger from the start playing a pressing game and moving former Gib Utd player Evan Coleing very effectively between the lines. United were content to keep the ball and build up play patiently making the Red Imps youngsters chase the ball.
United’s first chance came at the boots of Panzavechia. Dexter found himself creeping in beind the red and black defence. He found himself with the whole of the goal to aim at but inexplicably took another touch, perhaps he felt the presence of Kenneth Chipolina behind him. As defender and winger clashed Dexter fell to the ground inside the area. Mr Reoch waved away United’s frantic penalty appeals. The question lingered, why didn’t Dexter pull the trigger?
Red Imps had their chances too with (another) former Gib Utd player Aden Casey driving a shot well wide and Dominican striker Cesar also shooting wide. Pitu was turning back the clock in midfield and mastered and dominated the area becoming the creative hub of all United’s play going forward. He fed Evan Green the best chance of the first half but he dragged his shot wide of the post when a goal looked certain. Pitu also closed the first half with an immaculately delivered free kick that hit the stanchion of the goal. As Mr Reoch blew his whistle to end the half United knew they were in a real game.
Carl Ellul came on during the break, a key sub by Manolo as things would turn out. ‘Huveo’ had been lacking minutes lately but this game shows how patience and hard work pays off. He joined Evan Green up front and we looked the more aggressive in going forward. It was Evan again who had the first chance of the second half but once again had left his shooting boots at home. Tensions were on the rise and the Red Imps, supported by a large Lincoln contingent, sensed an upset in the wind. United’s spurned chances made one think of the old football adage of taking one’s chances or suffer the consequences.
Carl however put those fears to bed around the hour mark with a well placed finish from the edge of the Red Imps area that left Hankins with no chance of saving it. A sublime Ashley Perez was involved in the build up but it was the former St Joseph’s man that took the glory by giving us the lead.
Indeed Ashley was close to an assist, only for Evan to blast wide again. The goal, however, seemed to vitalise the Red Imps that to their manager’s credit surged forward and got a just reward in the 82nd minute when Cesar headed in a very well taken equaliser after a cross had come in following Sean Gilbert’s trip in trying to contain a Red Imps attack. Nerves and tension once seeped through the ranks.
However, cometh the hour cometh that man once again. With the 4th referee indicating 4 minutes of injury time the penalty shootout loomed large. Huevo had other thoughts. With the minutes ticking away he was able to find space, turn and shoot. A wicked deflection made the ball slice away from the goalkeeper and hit the back of the net. The wild celebrations from the United players was testament to the tension the match had been played in and also an indication of the effort the Red Imps players had put into the match, indeed they looked devastated at full time. United through to the Quarter Finals by the skin of our teeth!
Photos by JDK Photography