Brave Brits go down fighting against superior opposition
Británicos (0) 1
Tuvieja (0) 3
31, 39, 50
Parque Ebro 11/11/18 20:15
Cabañero, Rooney (Y), Wells, Borque, Keane, Gilman, Morris, Shaw, Kinsella
On a crisp and glorious autumn night, with almost no wind, The Británicos donned their Remembrance day poppy armbands and lined up to pay personal tribute to the men who had given the ultimate sacrifice in the horrendous conflict of the Great War a century before. Little did that small merry band of brothers in arms realise they were about to embark on a tribulation together that would bring the Alamo to mind, far more than the mud sodden trenches in the hell of Flanders.
Before the game had started, there was drama. Both teams lined up in the same colours, the opposition eager to wear their brand new shirts, fresh out of the box, had failed to bring a changed strip or bibs and were required to play in tracksuit tops. Then the referee was unsatisfied with the balls and they were changed twice before one was found that was firm enough for his officious eye.
As the game got underway, something became clear almost immediately. The Brits knew from other results that Tuvieja were a handy outfit, but a relatively youthful team crammed full of attacking flair and several players who could run exceptionally well with the ball meant the Exiles were in for a torrid time. Gifted and confident attacks piled onto the Brit defence. Rooney, once more paired with Wells found themselves outgunned and out played, but upped their game to get toes onto the ball and break up the devastating runs. Gilman and Borque had to come deep, as did Keane, the structure of the team held up well, the shape actually prevented the opposition from finding the extra yard of space to get in behind the defence. As the Brits got the measure of the opposition players and their style, the potential panic did not over awe them and they stuck to the task. Cabañero in the nets had an outstanding game when called upon, which happened with more regularity than previous matches. The Spaniards would have been justified in feeling they were the dominate force and should have got on the scoreboard, especially as the response attacks on the break broke down frequently.
Hearts were sent a flutter as Tuvieja started to win free kicks in the final third, Rooney made a desperate challenge as once again an attacker danced through on goal. The referee had no hesitation in showing the yellow card, commenting that he did not produce a red as he was not the last man. The free kick was resisted by Cabañero and the Brits could breath a sigh of relief.
The pressure did not relent, Tuvieja felt the match was there for the taking, Rooney swapped out for Shaw who continued to resist the attacking surges alongside Wells, who not long after swapped out for a rest. The youthful legs of the opposition stretching the Brits to the limit.
As the half moved on, Británicos started to tentatively find outlets. Kinsella and Shaw especially starting to give options out wide, Gilman running down hopeless balls and putting pressure on the opposition defence. Morris showed nice touches, releasing on the turn and some half chances started to be carved out. Some nice interplay on the edge of the box looked hopeful but shots did not force the keeper to work. Success started to come from set pieces, corners and throw ins putting their defence on edge, with the height of Gilman and Rooney demonstrating superiority in the box. Keane was unlucky at the far post to have his shot blocked and then a second bite of the cherry skimmed away.
Tuvieja had found themselves frustrated and resorting to long shots actually found a couple of opportunities as the half came to a close. Finally getting a decent ball in behind the defensive line and the striker beat the keeper only to see his shot inexplicably come back out off the far post. A final foray saw them break the lien once again, three different players trying to trick their way past lunges and finding the edge beyond the outstretched toe of Wells, but once more the keeper was on hand to perform an outstanding save from point blank range. Halftime was a welcome respite, enabling the Brits to regroup. It had been a tough half against a clearly better team, but the Brits were pleased to still be on equal terms. Despite the opposition energy, drive and skill, they had been thwarted. The only concern was whether the older legs would hold up as the second half wore on.
The game resumed in a similar vein, although the lack of clear cut chances were starting to frustrate the Spaniards. The Brits started to find some success with their passing moves and with Slater finding joy down the right, for the first time, they started to look stretched.
Sadly, just as chinks of light started to emerge the defence finally cracked. Once again from a free kick on the edge of the box, the Tuvieja set piece broke the deadlock. The wall had forced the striker to go wide, and he did so, despite Keane on the post, the ball was struck with such ferocity that nothing could be done to stop it.
Heads did not go down, this was still a game for the taking if the break could reap rewards. Borque charged down the left wing and launched a ball across the box, Gilman was unable to get his foot round the ball before the angle became too tight. Shaw then charged the right wing and got the ball across from the byline, Wells arriving at the far post had charged up pitch only to have the ball skim away off his shin pad.
Tuvieja looked unsteady, their defence nowhere near as strong as their attacking industry, and it was with a degree of relief that they managed to work the ball into the box and their captain converted with clinical determination. The Brits had to throw caution to the wind and pressed for a way back into the game. A corner fell between Wells and Kinsella on the edge of the box and the hesitation between the two meant a clean shot could not be got away. Gilman had a solid effort saved, Kinsella saw a drilled effort at the far post stopped by the outstretched keeper. With the driving attacks obviously more space opened up at the back, but Cabañero was playing like a man possessed. Pulling off outstanding saves to keep the Brits in the hunt. One such save at full stretch to tip a shot low at the post out for a corner had the striker applauding with admiration.
Keane started to find traction in midfield and Shaw continued to ply his trade down the right, getting to the byline and getting effective crosses into the box. Despite being tired and stretched, the defence actually stepped up their game and either put in solid interceptions as they pushed Tuvieja wide or embraced the professional game to bring the runners down and break up play. The opposition took it with good grace, clearly a team accustomed to teams resorting to the tactic, but as the game ticked into the last three minutes, finally tiredness seemed to take a toll on the opposition. Shaw winning a throw on the right, which was launched into the box. The ball squirmed through the crowd and in front of goal Rooney managed to get the slightest of touches as the ball flew across him and the Brits were on the scoreboard. While they had been undoubtedly second best for most of the contest, a goal was justly deserved for the work rate and determination demonstrated. Tuvieja were incensed, believing there had not been a touch and crowded the referee. The Brits thought that just maybe, just maybe, William Travis and Davy Crockett could escape the Alamo siege to fight another day. That the red coats could resist the Zulu numbers, that Blackadder and his motley crew would not need to scale the walls into no mans land. In a painful and immediate lesson that fate cannot be avoided, Tuvieja found half a yard of pace and with instant reprisal killed the game. It wasn’t the best finish and it bounced in front of the keeper leaving the Brits defeated.
3-1 once more the result. Both teams appreciated the work and attitude of the other and embraced warmly on the final whistle. The game had been played in a good spirit and while once more the Brits feel no shame in the defeat, it comes as a painful defeat after how much effort had been put in by all concerned. To leave the field with nothing was a disappointment, but we live to fight again, a luxury that so many that have come before us were not afforded.
Next week comes the runaway league leaders who have already notched up 34 goals in four back to back victories. 6 being the least they have scored in one match. We shall allow our kind reader to suggest what would constitute a good result for that encounter.
Dedicated to the fallen...
We will remember them.