All images copyrighted to official club photographer Christopher Milan.
Match corresponding to the 3rd Round of the Gibraltarian Premier Division and played on Saturday 15th October at 18:15.
Gibraltar United Football Club 1 – 3 Mons Calpe SC
Gibraltar United Football Club
11 Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin
22 Jamie Currer
21 Erin Barnett
19 Brad Power
5 Jason Pusey
2 Carl Thomas
24 Jamie Bosio
26 Ashley Rodriguez
15 Aymen Mouehli
9 Evan Green
7 Robert Montovio (C)
Paul Podesta on for Carl Thomas
Andrew Hernandez on for Aymen Mouehli
Kaylan Rumbo on for Evan Green
Premier Division football resumes after the recent Internationals and Gib Utd face a familiar foe in Mons Calpe SC. United remain unbeaten versus their opponents today after meeting and beating Mons 3 times during the Second Division Championship season in 2014/15 but the 2016 version of Mons Calpe is currently the surprise package of the Division sitting joint top and unbeaten so far. Anthony Hernandez is still missing through injury so Evan Green makes his first appearance of the season with Manolo seeking his pace to supplement Robert’s movement up front. Jamie Currer returns in the left wing back role with Ashley Perez dropping to the bench. Elsewhere its as we where with young Tyron ‘Tiger’ Oton making his first appearance in a call up with the subs keeper berth on the bench.
United suffered a very bad day at the office with Mons Calpe deservedly taking the 3 points home in a match that saw United show very little attacking intent until the dying moments of the game. That said Mons had two chances for their goals and little else. United started the match looking to their solidity to hold Mons’ dangerous forward ‘Pibe’, formerly of Glacis United. As is becoming the norm, United gifted possession to their rivals relying instead on their strengths at the back to provide counter attacks.
As it was Mons had plenty of the ball but little penetration to bother Chino with. The first goal when it came was the antithesis of what United stand for. A darting run was covered by Chino. A deft dink over the keeper left the ball in the 6 yard box with two of our defenders to cover the line and the ball. A catalouge of errors left the ball at the feet of Di Piedi to tap in unexpectedly among the perplexed look of our defenders. Their second goal, courtesy of Otero came with a free header from the penalty spot from a corner. United went in 2-0- down at half time with nothing to show in terms of attacking intent other than the incessant running and chasing down of Evan Green.
Evan was joined by half time substitute Paul Podesta who changed the dynamic of the team somewhat. He gave our attack a focal point and he was impeccable in the air winning every ball that came his way and also winning the physical battle too. Testament of this is the fact that two of Mons’ defenders started to pick him up and our first chances were to come due to his fighting spirit. Evan Green was provided with a gilt edged chance from about 10 yards out. Following good work from Paul and Robert he found himself in space but with ball falling to his weaker left foot he drilled his shot wide at a time when United were putting Mons under the cosh.
The first 20 minutes of the second half showed that when this team shows attacking intent it can hurt and bring damage to bear on its opponents. The question is why wait? With ‘Pishu’ Hernandez coming on for Aymen United’s left wing saw the best of our forward play with Currer, Hernandez and Podesta harrassing the Mons right back Dos Santos. Little work however for the Mons keeper was created. It was Mons instead who were gifted a 3rd goal when the whole of the defence just stood still to give Cascio enough time to lob the ball over ones head and rifle the ball past Chino.
The last act was to fall to Jamie Bosio, who gave his all in the heart of the midfield; getting booked but receiving little protection from the ref. Half falling over he lobbed the Mons keeper from just outside the 6 yard box to open his account with the club i a spectacular manner. Little consolation but United supporters in the stands will expect a more ambitious approach from the manager int he games to come.
Match corresponding to the 2nd Round of the Gibraltarian Premier Division and played at the Victoria Stadium on Saturday 3rd October 2015 at 19:30
Gibraltar United Football Club 0 – 2 Europa Football Club
Gibraltar United Football Club
1 Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin
11 Jared Buhagiar
23 Kenneth Chipolina
2 Aaron Collado
88 Carl Thomas
90 Jamie Currer
99 Jamie Bosio
16 Steven Gilbert
18 Byron Espinosa
10 Andrew Lopez (C)
8 Robert Montovio
Justin Collado on for Jamie Currer
Naoufal El Andalussi on for Steven Gilbert
Alan Parker on for Andrew Lopez
United faced off against Europa FC. Another historic name of local football but with an opposing philosophy to the one adopted by Gibraltar United in that their ranks are full of foreign players. Local sporting media picked up on this in the build up to the game. Whatever their philosophy no one can deny that Europa have made a great start to the season. They took Lincoln all the way in the Pepe Reyes Cup and played very well in their league opener against the Red Imps last week. They have qualified for the Europa League for two seasons in a row and no one in the club was taking this match lightly. Nuñez’s line up indicated as much.
With Mark Casciaro serving a ban imposed on him by the GFA it was left to Steven Gilbert to take on the mantle of defensive midfield cover. He would no doubt be busy. Mindful of not seeing much of the ball, Nuñez went for the ultra fit Currer at the expense of Bakkari to support Carl Thomas on the right side of our team. A midweek injury to Lee Buhagiar meant that Kenneth Chipolina, on loan from Lincoln FC, made his second debut for the club. Both he and Byron Espinosa had played a full 90 minutes for the Reserves midweek. ‘Chino’ Goldwin was also back in goal having served his one match ban in the aforementioned Reserves game.
Your usual reporter was unable to attend the match but thanks to @GFTMatchDay, @5point_4 and @FGScoreCentre for their excellent coverage of the match keeping us all abreast of the goings on at the stadium. It was clear that Europa FC would be having the lion’s share of the possession and so it was. Their first goal came from a header on the 6th minute from Pedro Carrion. Headers were to be a constant source of threat throughout the match as most of Europa’s chances came from such opportunities. 3 more times at least in the first half, with Chino excelling himself on one particular save. The second half was more of the same. Their second goal came from a well delivered cross that was put away by Javi Martinez in the 77th minute. Good to see Naoufal El Andalussi and Alan Parker making their senior debuts for the club.
Captain Andrew Lopez spoke to us after the game telling us he was proud of the effort every single player had made on the pitch. He conceded the goals were mistakes that can be rectified and he was proud to lead such a group of players against such a prestigious club. He saw the performance against one of the top sides as one to build a lot of confidence on moving forwards especially in our next game verses champions Lincoln FC. Indeed these thoughts were echoed by other supporters and opposition players alike.
No games now until the 16th October as Gibraltar play their last two UEFA Euro 2106 qualifiers away at Georgia and versus Scotland in Faro. Good luck to our goalkeeper Liam Neale who is joining the squad.
Match corresponding to the 1st Round of the Gibraltarian Premier Division and played at the Victoria Stadium on Sunday 27th September 2015 at 16:30.
Gibraltar United Football Club 1 – 1 FC Britannia XI
Gibraltar United Football Club
1 Kyle ‘Chino’ Golwin
11 Jared Buhagiar
3 Lee Buhagiar
2 Aaron Collado
88 Carl Thomas
25 Mark Casciaro
99 Jamie Bosio
10 Andrew Lopez (C)
20 Abderrahman Bakkari
7 Justin Collado
8 Robert Montovio
Byron Espinosa on for Justin Collado
Steven Gilbert on for Jamie Bosio
Liam Neale on for Abderrahman Bakkari
Football is back. Gibraltar United took to the field for the first time since that evening on the 2nd June when we were crowned Division 2 champions. It all seems a life time away and much has changed in the club. Manager, Manolo Nuñez put out his first XI as United manager and he kept faith with last year’s solid back 5. Mark Casciaro remained the play maker at the hub of the midfield with débutante Jamie Bosio alongside him. Abdul Bakkari and Robert Montovio, both no strangers to football at this level also made their debuts. Club stalwarts Andrew Lopez and Justin Collado finalised the first United XI to play Premier League football for the first time in years. Supporters in the stand were expectant as the match pitted the last two winners of the Second Division against each other.
The match, to be honest, started in a very turgid and pedestrian manner both sides not wanting to make a slip up that would mean an early goal. Britannia clearly had the best of the opening exchanges with our defense looking uncharacteristically nervous. Perhaps the occasion or the nervous anticipation prior to the match had got the better of the players but we were cagey at best. Britannia had no real class players to speak off and their play was largely based on punts over the top seeking to exploit the pace of winger Pishvaie. The first chance of note came on the 12th minute when ‘Chino’ was able to easily parry a tame Camacho header. That was pretty much it, other that a game full of stops and starts with lots of fouls. There was little opportunity for the football to flow such was the tension on the pitch. Ref, Mr Warwick had at this point a solid control of the match, something that unfortunately was not going to last.
The only genuine heart in mouths moment came on the 30th minute when an Otero header from a whipped in cross beat Chino and came off the crossbar. It was almost fumbled into our own net by one of the defenders but thankfully slid out for a corner. United had little to show up front with Robert Montovio ploughing a lone furrow chasing shadows. No matter how hard Collado or Abdul tried they couldn’t get in decent support positions to give the isolated Montovio some support. Just before half time a clearly offside Britannia goal was disallowed by the assistant. As the whistle blew United supporters where somewhat downbeat, Britannia had won the first half on points.
The second half started brighter for United as Mark Casciaro began to get more and more of the ball. He was everywhere on the pitch today, covering every blade of synthetic grass, getting tackles in and getting his team mates to move around him. Indeed, he became the target of some rough handling by the Britannia players and the referee failed to give him any meaningful protection. Yet despite the improvement it was Britannia that had the clearer chances, all of which did not really trouble the dependable Chino in goal. Manolo Nuñez had seen enough and on the hour mark sent in Byron Espinosa, for his debut, and Steven Gilbert to have fresh legs and lungs on the pitch. The next incident, however was to have a definite impact on the game.
Britannia winger Camacho pounced on an error by Lee Buhagiar to put himself on a 1 on 1 situation against Chino. As he bore down on the keeper his touch was somewhat heavy and the ball veered towards the corner. Chino, already committed, was adjudged by Mr Warwick to have clipped a clever outstretched leg. He pointed at the spot and called the keeper over. His red card hoisted above an unbelieving Chino meant the keeper had his marching orders. The crowd instantly heckled the referee. Though the penno was understandable the red card was not. The ball was clearly veering away from the goal yet off he went and Liam Neale made his debut under the most stressful of circumstances. He nearly even got a hand to it but Pishvaie netted Britannia’s first goal of the season. It was not the last time this individual was to have some centre role in the match!
Going down to 10 men seemed to galvanise United that surged forward as we used to do last season. Byron Espinosa should the class that mark him as a player of immense potential. He was put through by a delightful Steven Gilbert ball having ghosted in from the wing. It was only a last ditch tackle by the defender that stopped him from going 1 on 1 with Barnfather in goal. Gaining in confidence United sought the equaliser. Andrew Lopez run his socks off while Montovio prodded and was looking for the space in which that killer ball could be delivered. Yet as legs tire so do minds, a quick Britannia counter from a ball we lost saw Mancilla rifle off a quick shot that hardly left the ground. Liam, only recently on the pitch, dove quickly and parried the goal bound shot with his legs. The young keeper showing why he is in the Gibraltar National Squad.
Tried as they could, despite Britannia’s time wasting, United could not find the much desired breakthrough until the 85th minute. Following a save from a Britannia free kick Liam launched the ball forward. Robert immediately got in between the sky blue center halves and he must have disconcerted them as a very poor pass was intercepted by him. He danced past the defenders and left the keeper for dead with a cool finish from the left side of the area into the far corner of the goal. Supporters erupted in joyous celebration as the refereeing upto that point had left a lot to be desired.
Unfortunately the refereeing was to take a turn for the worse. With seconds remaining Montovio was shoved to the ground by Britannia player Pishvaie after some handbags between attacker and defenders. Pishvaie had no reason being there but in he went to shove Robert to the ground. With tensions running high players of both teams congregated on the scene as more shoving and pushing ensued. Pishvaie seemed especially up for it and continued goading the United players. All the while Mr Warwick stood observing the scene. As tempers settled Pishvaie saw the red card to which there was more shoving and pushing. What is inexplicable is the referee’s next action. With all the pomp in the world he marched to Mark Casciaro and brandishes a red card to the astonishment of everyone in the stands. Mark had not shoved or pushed anyone or incited or aggravated the incident. Considering he had been kicked from one end of the pitch to the other it was surprising to say the least that he was sent off for something he was not involved in. Meanwhile Pishvaie, adding dissent to his red, was still on the pitch reluctant to leave. The whistle blew soon after but the incident had left a bad taste in supporter’s mouths as we had fought hard for a point.
Next up is the Reserves against Lions Reserves while our next match is next Saturday against Europa FC.
Club Captain Andrew Lopez took time from being a father, his full time job and the busy training schedule to speak to us about how he is feeling about the forthcoming season. In many ways Andrew is the heart and soul of the Club who has worked tirelessly since the relaunch of the club. He is now also part of the Committee and has given, and continues to give all for the Cause.
We first asked Andrew how he felt the pre season had gone. He was quick to point out that pre season kicked off 3-4 days straight after the league had finished. At first it was a shock to the system but the squad was soon working extremely hard since as we need to have a higher level of fitness to compete. The introduction of the new professional manager has helped us improve a lot.
As one of the longest serving members of the squad we asked him about the quality of player that the club had been able to attract during the off season. His answer was emphatic!
“The team is starting to form a solid foundation. Many Gibraltarian players have joined the cause willingly wanting to help this great club achieve its goals. The importance of maintaining ‘only local players’ is a major boost for all those who have been side-lined ever since Gibraltar attained UEFA membership due to the influx of foreign players. We have signed great players with keen ambitions to perform, which is what we are always after. Youngsters as well as experienced players who have boosted the morale, which was already high with having won the 2nd Division and promotion to Premier last season.”
“We have great players in the squad, and I can’t really mention anyone in particular as there are so many quality and technically gifted locals, who can indeed perform to the highest level. All I can say is that the GFA manager should be looking thoroughly at this squad for locals who will be playing the full 90 minutes and I can guarantee they will give their all for Gibraltar. Call ups will are sure to come as the quality in the squad is unmistakeable.”
Andrew was as emphatic when asked whether he felt the team was ready for the challenges to come:
“We have set standards very high, if we wouldn’t, what would be the point? We always need to set high objectives or achievements in order to perform to the maximum. This will get the best out of our players, especially if they want to give all they have for this club. The main objective is challenging for the Europa League spots, we cannot get any higher than that, however, I do believe staying in the Premiership is more than essential this year.”
We also enquired at to his feelings in leading a squad comprised only of locals:
“As Club captain, it is a great honour being part of a squad comprised completely of Gibraltarians. As mentioned earlier, everyone at the club wants to succeed… sometimes the willingness and ‘amor propio’ as we say, can take your further than skill or professionalism on its own. We are a great bunch of players and the love I have for this club and its players is something I cannot really explain. I always go out of my way to help the club in good and bad moments and so do many other players who have a long history here.
I understand the difficulty of having ‘only locals’ in a strong Premier League filled with foreigners who have been playing in some more professional leagues throughout their career. I can truly say that if most of us were born in any other country which was UEFA approved, we would have been competing in professional leagues too, as the skill and technique of many Gibraltarians is something which you cannot deny. Its just unfortunate that we have only just joined UEFA a couple of years ago. This, however, will benefit many of our youngsters who now have something great to look forward to; the Champions League!
Andrew left us with this final thought: “We must keep focused and work together as a team, but i can really say we are more than a team, we are a family and will push ourselves in becoming a strong force.”
We thank Andrew for his time and I know he is more than eager for the ball to start rolling this weekend and cannot wait to lead his troops into battle. Andrew certainly epitomises our club motto of ‘Vi et Animo, Ad Victoriam’. With Heart and Soul to Victory! Remember Sunday, 16:30 vs FC Britannia FC XI. Football’s back!