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Bonfire of the vanities

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

A riveting derby that sparkled but produced no fireworks and left the Brits empty handed


13, 16, 36


40 Kinsella

Parque Ebro 04/11/18 20:00

Cabañero, Rooney, Wells, Pernas, Keane, Gilman, Morris, Shaw, Kinsella

In only the third game in the history of the the club, the Brits faced their first chance to meet their former team mates . The rupture of the Ecotisa team, leaving the Brits to form their own new cub meant this was a derby game that held significance for both teams. At the core of both sides were players who had spent two seasons together and neither team wanted to emerge second best.

As the game got underway, the rest of the programmed matches drew to a close and floodlights switched off leaving just the one pitched bathed in light, surrounded by inhospitable darkness. A small crowd gathered and with a heightened sense of anticipation, in a quiet corner of Zaragoza, a true battle of wills got underway.

Both teams were nervous and desperate not to put a foot wrong, but Ecotisa enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession. Probing with energy and inventive passing, the Brit defence, with Rooney filling in for an absent Ferns, held their line well against prolonged pressure, several corners and plenty of possession did not result in any work for the Brit goalkeeper. Former team mates found themselves up against British steel in defence for the first time, and perhaps started to appreciate what they had rejected.

The Brits passing was a little wayward, but the energy and touch shown by Pernas making his debut on the left hand side gave Ecotisa problems and Gilman was full of running and surprises on the right, but Morris and Keane were struggling to get results through the centre. As the half wore on, the exiles tried to calm the nerves and exert their authority over the game, Rooney and Gilman swapped out for Shaw and another debutant, Kinsella to refresh legs but neither were natural in defence. In retrospect it was an error of judgement to change two players on the same wing at the same time, especially two players who had not played together before and Ecotisa exploited the uncertainty. Twice in quick succession they stretched and broke the line and getting in behind the defence punishing the Brits with clinical finishing. After all their hard work and diligence resisting the red waves, the Exiles suddenly found themselves two down. Morris almost scored from the restart, his long distance lob just falling behind the bar and the Brits regrouped. Frustration mixed with the disappointment as every loose ball seemed to bounce kindly for Ecotisa.

The mountain got a whole lot higher but heads did not drop. Recovering their shape, they started to probe the Ecotisa defence with a good mix of long ball and short passing play. The Británico attack started to find gaps, Pernas and Keane combining well to good effect and Kinsella looking far more comfortable marauding forward. Pernas and Rooney combined to unleash Keane in space just outside the area only for the diminutive danger man to uncharacteristically pull his shot wide.

The half came to a close with the Brits reasserting themselves on the game, but without anything to show for it. The Brits held a resolute half time team talk and headed back on to the field eager to get underway. The second half saw Ecotisa try to push home their dominance and come up against a defiant Brit defence that held firm. Wells, in combination with Rooney, were an unflappable pair, taking the ball off the feet of the Ecotisa runners. Gilman, Shaw and Kinsella came back and helped crowd out attacks. Cabañero was called upon to make two outstanding saves , stretching low and long to keep out speculative efforts, and still the bounce seemed to fall kindly for the opposition, making the defensive operations seem more flustered and desperate than it deserved. For all their industry and dribbling skills, Ecotisa were not getting through the resolute defence. The work was so effective Ecotisa pulled their playmakers deeper in an attempt to stretch the defence, but they held to their task and started to get the rub of the green, enabling distribution forward, both defenders started to carry the ball out of defence and stretch the Ecotisa midfield out of shape, opening up gaps for the Brits to exploit.

The Brits started to find more success as opposition legs started to tire and quick passing moves started to open up space up front. Gilman found himself available as decisive cross field balls worked their way to him, on his first attempt he was crowded out by two defenders and the keeper, it seemed a fairly obvious penalty but the referee waved the protests away. But his ability to ghost in at the far post continued to prove fruitful. A similar move found him jostling for a chance to get a shot away but the move was broken down as he tried to move inside.

Kinsella and Keane found themselves running onto the same ball a couple of times but Ecotisa increasingly started to feel the pressure as the Brits searched furiously for the moment to pull one back and make the opposition uneasy. Meanwhile, at the other end a further lucky bounce from an interception by Wells fell to an Ecotisa attacker who rifled a shot at goal, only to be bravely blocked by Gilman with his crotch. It was a sacrificial block that was felt by all on the field and those watching on the sideline. Only a couple of minutes later, once more a further bounce fell to Ecotisa, this time the shot slipped under the lunge and beat the keeper. Clear blue water had now emerged between the rival teams.

The Brits pushed on and looked for the small hope of forcing the game back into the balance. Throwing caution to the wind they surged forward and the overwhelming numbers and quick pace finally started to unpick the Ecotisa defence. Energetic runs down the right by Shaw were creating havoc, a cross found Rooney with the goal at his mercy but he was unable to wrap his foot around the ball and it agonizingly looped over the bar off his outstretched knee.

The exiles turned the screw another notch and once again beating his man on the right, Shaw found Kinsella in the box, he steadied himself and allowed the keeper to commit before slotting the ball into the other corner. The relief was palpable, getting on the board with around nine minutes to go and the Brits could smell the uncertainty. The tired Ecotisa midfield started to leave the defence exposed and a further ball across to the left found Gilman in the box, this time, as he was taken down, the referee pointed to the spot. Ecotisa protested, but as Keane stepped up to take, the match hung on a knife edge. He placed the penalty with precision to the keepers right, but the stopper had committed the right way and impressively saved. Players, crowd, the Gods knew, at that point the game was not going to see a dramatic twist in favour of the exiles.

The game was played out to a close, still frenetically heading from one end to the other, with all players giving their all up to the final whistle. Every ball was hotly contested. The game had been played in a flowing and fair manner, there were smiles and embraces at the final whistle and a degree of respect. There can be no complaints, Ecotisa on balance, were probably the better side and deserved the win, although a margin of 3-2 would probably had been a fairer result. Conceding three goals did not reflect the standard of defending by the Brits, in the end, Ecotisa had been clinical in front of goal and taken their chances, Británicos failed to create enough in reply.

Heads were held high and the return clash is already in the diary. The opportunity to avenge the defeat comes in February, but the league programme continues without let up next Sunday. Británicos are on a fast learning curve in what seems to be an impressively competitive league and will be keen to get back to winning ways. The two forthcoming fixtures are against two of the early pace setters in the league, by the end of November we will have a clearer idea of just how the Brits match up to the standard of the leaders in the league and what realistic targets can be achieved this season. The team spirit is strong and the team continues to mesh together quickly. This will be tested in the coming weeks.

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