Updated: Dec 28, 2019
The Exiles were over run by Romanian outfit Los Suaves in a painful, but not shameful, learning experience.
Los Suaves (6) 8
9, 11, 13, 16, 19, 21, 59, 60
Británicos (1) 2
23, 39 Morris
Parque Ebro 18/11/18 19:15
Cabañero, Ferns, Wells, Pernas, Keane, Gilman, Morris, Kinsella, Shaw, Slater
The Brits were always expecting a tough encounter against league runaway leaders Los Suaves who have been terrorising league defences in the early part of the season. The Exiles were welcoming back Adam Ferns and Matthew Slater to their line up and Pernas returned after illness last week. It was felt that a torrid time was expected and so the best form of defence was to be attack.
Rather than wait to find themselves up against it before coming out of their shell, the Brits went at it immediately. For the first portion of the game Los Suaves were on the back foot. Brit attacks were finding space, Gilman having two half chances early and resultant corners gave Los Suaves pause for thought, Gilman at the back post heading into a defender before the ball ricocheting back out off his shin. Keane looked lively and Pernas brought more confidence in shoring up the back and then turnover into attack. Ferns and Wells found themselves busy with the front runners, marking the two attackers closely, but it was becoming clear that the Los Suaves dynamism rotated around their star man in the midfield, number 20 Mihai. He unlocked the defence with a ball down the Brit right side, the runner found half a yard from Ferns and as the ball cut across the box, their number nine having lost Wells for the first time, put the ball away from point blank range.
Mihai then found himself on the receiving end of the referees wrath early on, being booked for protesting a free kick that had been awarded for calling "leave it". Los Suaves were infuriated and the referee struggled to maintain control but they channelled their anger unleashing Mihai down the left who rifled a shot past Cabañero and an outstretched Wells to double their lead. He then aggressively told the referee to put that in his book as well. It was with some degree of surprise that he avoided a second yellow card for his disrespect to the arbiter of the game.
Over the course of the next ten minutes Los Suaves clinically took the Brits apart with ruthless haste. Four more goals were piled on as the clearly superior team turned the screw. Their passing was accurate, their movement was fast and they unleashed shots with ferocity and accuracy before the defence could get in to block. The Brits struggled to keep up with them but toiled away without surrendering. Slater came on for spell on the wing and as the half drew to a close he drove forward to the right channel and played a ball back ingot he centre, Morris got a touch on it to redirect it goal wards and it nestled in behind the post. It had been a brutal mauling of a half but the Brits were pleased to have got on the scoresheet.
Half time saw the team pleased at how they had played, the standard of the Exiles passing and movement had significantly improved on previous weeks and against lesser teams and with a little bit of luck the Brits could have had four or five of their own. It was agreed that there was nothing to lose and to head out for the second half determined to enjoy the game and play ball.
It may be true that Los Suaves took their foot off the gas granted, but the Brits started to apply genuine pressure. Mihai spent spells off the pitch and it became clear just how much he had dictated the game, the Brit defence suddenly felt more comfortable without the maestro running at them, but even during his sessions on the pitch, he was unable to plough through the entire back line with such wanton abandon.
With Ferns playing a more central role and rotations of Slater, Shaw and Wells across the back, the Brits were holding the opposition at bay, but up front they started to cause all sorts of problems. Keane was desperately unlucky not to have scored a cracker on the half volley, just brushing the post from the edge of the box. Keane and Morris started to link up with brightness and effective results. Kinsella came close and Morris was called offside as the defence opened up. There was plenty of industry and effort, but without the final product, the lead would not be put under pressure. As it turned out, the Brits did get one back with Morris unleashing a rocket past the keeper to bring the defect back to a mere four.
Los Suaves started to push harder as the game wound down toward a close, pinning the Brits back but finding themselves vulnerable on the break. Ferns went down in considerable pain with no challenge on him, with a strain to his hamstring, he hobbled off the field having given a solid contribution, the team await news on the progress of his injury with nervous interest. The Brits persisted, but unfortunately, as Slater tried to thread the needle to unleash a counter attack, an interception saw the Brits outnumbered at the back and after having come close a couple of times in the second half, Los Suaves finally added to their tally. A final goal was then added at the death as an attempt to launch a rapid counter attack from the back fell to Mihai who once more proved to be clinical.
It had been a game played in a good spirit, despite some surreal referee decisions at times, Los Suaves have easily demonstrated an abundance of talent, even if they do not seem anywhere near as deadly while Mihai is off the pitch, they are still a very effective team. The Brits played well, and continued to work hard in the face of a dynamic and free scoring team. It would have been a just, if empty reward, to have maintained a clean sheet in the second half.
Another performance to take pride from, but the Brits will be hoping to convert running, effort and team spirit into all important points on the board and will look to bounce back after being on the receiving end of a mauling that will almost certainly be handed out to all teams over the course of the season by this opposition.