Match corresponding to the 22nd Round of the Gibraltarian Premier Division and played at the Victoria Stadium on Monday 4th April 2016 at 20:30.
Gibraltar United Football Club 3 – 1 Lions Football Club
Gibraltar United Football Club
1 Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin
11 Jared Buhagiar
19 Brad Power
15 Steffan Cardona
77 Kaylan Rumbo
88 Carl Thomas
3 Ashley Perez
24 ‘Pitu’ Anes
22 Duane Robba
6 Dexter Panzavechia
8 Robert Montovio (C)
Steven Gilbert on for Kaylan Rumbo
David Gallardo on for Robert Montovio
Derek Asquez on for ‘Pitu’ Anes
League action returns after the International hiatus. Manolo welcomes back our international players and congratulations to Robert Montovio on making his début in the UEFA era in an official game having minutes in both games versus Lichtenstein and Latvia. Chino and Brad both had game time in the Centenary match versus San Roque. Likewise Manolo welcomes back the three suspended players who missed out in out 1/4 Final Rock Cup loss to Lions last time out. A solid defensive line backs up a strong midfield and an eager and hungry Robert upfront wanting to rediscover his scoring touch in the league. It is crunch time now for the club and each game is a final as we approach the last 6 games of the season with keeping our Premier Division status the target. Vi et Animo, Ad Victoriam!
The match kicked off in wintry weather conditions with rain swirling around in the strong, sqaulling wind. It wasn’t long however before United supporters in the stands had some action to warm their hearts. A defensive mix up between Mouheli and keeper Szpilczynski allowed recently capped Montovio to capitalise on their confusion to slot the ball into the net. 5 minutes in and United 1-0 up in this most important of matches. As the rain continued to pour down the men in Red and White battened down the hatches to weather the storm coming from the heavens and the one the men in orange were sure to release.
Yes, Lions did lionise (no pun) possession but had very little danger to offer to Chino’s goal. Though their passing was crisp and sharp it was largely in areas far from any possible threat zones to our goal. Their efforts were largely restricted to long range efforts, the closest they got was a shot blazed over the bar by Sykes Garro. United held firm and Manolo was directing the type of game he revels in. Defending a 1-0 lead with a solid line of 5 in the middle acting as a bulwark for our defence.
Indeed, despite their possession it was United that had the clearest chances. Though ploughing the lonesome furrow upfront, Montovio can burst into action at any given moment. Pitu was constantly looking for him with clever, incisive balls over the top and in one combination he found Robert out wide. The frontman drifted a cross into the near post area where an onrushing Dexter glance off a header that wrong footed the Lions keeper. Luck however was not our side as the ball skimmed the post and went off for a goal kick. Some welcome relief and a warning to the Oranges that despite their lengthy spells of possession United’s sting was sharp. Ashley Perez was to have another chance blast into the side netting while the keeper made up for earlier errors by rushing out to cancel a promising one-two between our attackers. As Mr Warwick brought the half to a close it was a wet but upbeat group of United players that trudged off to the dressing rooms to listen to their manager’s team talk.
Lions made their intent clear from the start of the second half. Attack, attack attack. They sought to capitalise on their possession but their original onslaughts were broken on the defensive Red and White wall. Both Power and Cardona handled crosses coming in from the wing comfortably and frustration was beginning to set in as tackles started to fly in all over the ground and the match began to take a more physical turn, nothing nasty just a real good game of football. Aymen Mouheli made amends for his clanger at the outset of the match however by pouncing on a loose ball in the area to give Lions parity on the scoreboard. An uncharacteristic mistake between Chino meant the ball was missed by the keeper and the Tunisian defender was able to toe poke the ball into the net. The Oranges had finally broken through and United’s play looked nervous and careless.
Yet cometh the hour cometh the man. From the kick off Robert used his skill and nuance to dribble his way past Mouheli and Salas. One quick look up from the edge of the box was the only indication he needed and with power and precision he blasted the ball past the helpless keeper. Lions’ lead had lasted all of 2 minutes. Robert’s celebrations were wild and rightly so as the barracking he was getting on the pitch from the defenders was severe.
Pressure proportionally mounted on the goal as United totally surrendered possession to focus on defence, which at times was chaotic and clumsy. Cardona flung himself at every ball while Power headed everything away. Kaylan Rumbo was having a tremendous game in defensive midfield supporting in all areas of the pitch. Yet Lions were finding a way by dropping a ball between both and their clearest chance came in such a ball the flummoxed the centre halves. The ball fell to Narvaez who surely could not miss. Chino, however, pulled off a magnificent save down to his left to make up for his earlier error. The Lions forward looked on in disbelief as Chino proceeded with play.
Sensing the weakness Manolo threw on David Gallardo for a flaking Montovio. Robert had run his socks off and had put us up front but David would plug the gap that Lions were trickling through. Balls continued to fly in and Lions were sole possessors of the ball but they were not getting the rub of the green. Steven Gilbert replaced an injured Rumbo while Derek Asquez replaced Pitu in the dying minutes of the game.
Yet final mention must go to Ashley Perez. Another dedicated player that tun his socks off and made the left wing his with the assistance of Jared. As the fourth official held up the board indicating 5 minutes of injury time, United had some rare possession to give the defence some respite. With Pitu as our most forward player Ashely rushed to support. Pitu squared him the ball, he took two steps forward and lashed a thunderbolt from about 25 meters out. He struck the ball with such aplomb that the Lions keeper literally had not chance. It arrowed into the the top right hand corner to finally settle the match and nerves to give United an invaluable 3 points that bring us level with Glacis United on 22 points. Our next match is a do or die affair versus the Clarets and Blues this coming Sunday