Updated: Dec 28, 2019
Britannia (2) 4
Inter De Mitente (5) 9
@Parque de Ebro
Defiance is the quality of a determined and bold resistance to authority or an opposing force. The Britannia team showed this quality in droves on a windy an uninviting Sunday afternoon as they jousted with one of the form teams in the league. There is no question that there was a difference in standard between the two teams, but not the gulf that the final scoreline would infer. The Brits left the field in good heart despite the result. They were rightly proud of their performances, individually and as a team. That defiance and spirit will need to be called upon next week, nothing less than a win against fellow strugglers Casablanca will keep their challenge to avoid relegation alive.
There was a great anticipation for this match as for the first time the team was almost entirely Anglo Saxon. Morrissey, Keane, Gilman, Wells, Morris all lined up together with Piedrafita, Perez and Alejandro Larraga completing the turn out.
This game opened at blistering speed and Inter leapt on an uncharacteristic miscommunication between Keane and Larraga to start the scoring. A second was added early after an Inter player went to the ground under pressure from Morrissey. The referee seemed to make the decision upon seeing the player stay down. After a prolonged delay, the aggrieved party leapt up and slotted home the free kick with ease.
This set the tone for the game and fired the motivation of the Brits. What followed was a frenzied half of end to end football which saw goalkeepers at both ends at full stretch and dynamic attacking football. The Brits looked dangerous as Keane and Morris regularly linked up effectively. An early response saw Keane find Morris from a corner before Inter added another from a long distance shot which found the post and in. Britannia came close time and time again. Wells with a blocked volley, Piedrafita finding Keane and Morris with quick balls into the box behind the defence.
Inter had undoubted talent and were well drilled but a degree of simulation was present in their game which infuriated the Brits, tempers flared on more than one occasion on both sides, the game was played at extraordinary urgency, Inter chasing promotion, Britannia, survival. The referee was want to allow the game to flow which would have suited Britannia's style of play, but relentless step overs and a desire to draw fouls from the opposition made the play rather broken.
Despite conceeding five the Britanico defence sealed up tight and resisted Inter forays before launching their own. Larraga and Morrissey cleaning up and distributing through the wings to unleash rapid counter attacks, with fast passing and quick overlaps. Morris being denied twice more and Keane drawing an extraordinary save from their keeper as half time approached, it seemed all the industry would be for no reward. The move led to a free kick which was whipped in by Morris and touched deftly on with the head by Keane to leave the margin at only a three goal deficit at half time.
The Brits felt buoyed by their performance, still in the hunt and playing expansive and promising football. The quality of the opposition in attack and their eye for goal was undeniable, but it was felt their defence was soft and their temperament short. The team spoke of calm heads and to continue to play a fast passing game.
What followed was ten minutes of some astounding, mesmeric football from the Brits. Morrissey transformed from a confident defensive presence to a unmovable object, not only snatching the ball to break up attacks but turning the play into rapid counter attacks for the Britanicos. Wells alongside him in defence mopping up second balls and allowing Morrissey to maraud forward. Gilman and Piedrafita expansive and seductive on the wings and Keane terrifying in the centre, opening channels for Morris to hold the ball up and release waves of attacks. Like a well oiled machine, the team relentlessly turned defence into attack and repeatedly denied by the opposition goalkeeper playing out of his skin. Lucky deflections or the woodwork and a denied Morris goal for offside also played their part and the tempo of the match changed. Inter wary of the spring in the Britanico step and the threats from all sides, resorted to the "dark arts". Morrissey once again penalised as an Inter player fell and the resultant free kick tragically squirmed through Perez's legs. Before the team could regroup, another was added as Morrissey was finally beaten and Wells was unable to make up the ground and his lunge failed to block the shot.
Salt was rubbed into the wounds almost immediately again as an Inter player nutmegged Wells with a back heel to score again and the Britannia will wavered. The tie became thunderous, British style unforgiving but legal tackles were greeted with cries and simulation from the Inter players. The clash of culture and ethos saw the game break down into a series of individual battles. Gilman engaged in exchanges of words with the opposition, Morris suspected he was spat on, the break of the ball did not seem to go the Brits way, all spilled over into a tempestuous flare up in the centre of the park. Gilman went in aggressively on a player and as he chased down the ball it was clear the Inter player was intent on bringing the tall winger down rather than take the ball. He did so with malice and Gilman reacted. The teams both rushed to the scene as Brits placed themselves between fiery Inter players and the prostrate Gilman still prepared to take on all comers. It is a mystery to most as to how the referee only booked Gilman and not the Inter player for the first offence but it channelled a passion in the Britanicos that made for a powerful closing stages of the game.
The team played with a fury, in an attempt to salvage some pride from the encounter. Wells took the ball on an unusual surging run and found himself denied by the opposition keeper once more. Keane ducked and harried through the defensive line and found Morris who gratefully lashed the ball home. Piedrafita added another with a quality finish and although time was running out, Britannia had the Inter players feeling the pressure again. But seeking goals and leaving the defence prone was always a risk and with a few minutes remaining Inter converted once more and the day was done.
The final whistle was met with a bitter sweet acceptance. Each member of the team could put their hand on their heart and say that individually and as a team they had put in a performance to be rightly proud of, Morrissey being the outstanding performer with a defensive shift to rival Roy Keane and Dave MacKay combined. There is honour in defeat as much as there is glory in victory but the stark task is now very clear. A win is a must in the next encounter, and hope results elsewhere go in their favour to leave hopes alive for the last match of the season to achieve the salvation miracle. The team have been competitive in a tough league but injuries, lack of squad depth and ageing legs alongside some desperate bad luck have left them in an undeserving dog fight to the death. Houdini couldn't write a better a pledge, Cruyff made a reputation on an extraordinary turn, now, Britannia must perform the astonishing prestige and take the bow at the inexplicable. Si se puede.
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