The Brits returned to work with an impressive display dedicated to recently bereaved team mate.
Los Británicos (1) 3
Pernas 2, Morris 41 , Gilman 50
Los Patachopos (0) 3
41, 45, 47
Parque Ebro 13/01/19 18:00
Wells, Borque, Rooney, Pernas, Gilman, Shaw, Morris.
At times, life puts football into perspective. Events sometimes forge brotherhood. The Brits had gathered the night before to show support to their popular team mate Adam Ferns, who had received the appalling news of the sudden death of his father. He was to be returning to the UK, unable to play and with further late withdrawals from the squad due to ill health and ongoing injuries, the exiles would line up without any subs. Energy levels and organisation would need to be carefully managed against a team with a solid defensive record and in the chasing pack at the top half of the table.
Life without Keane would see Pernas take on the pivotal central role and with Cabiñero absent, Wells would take the keeper's jersey for the third game in a row. Despite the lack of changes and a natural goalkeeper the team were optimistic about their chances. As the two sides gathered on the centre circle to observe an impeccable minute's silence, the Brits wore their black armbands and settled a steely eyed determination to put in a performance to make Adam proud.
The team looked purposeful and there is clearly an understanding running through the squad. Patachopos had the first moments of opportunity. Their tall number 11 (who was to have a solid and entertaining match with his marker, Rooney) put a header wide from a throw in. Yet it was the Brits who opened the scoring. Moments later at the other end of the pitch Morris launched a trademark long throw into the opposition box, and as ever, caused chaos in the defence. Shaw got a touch at the back post and the ball sat up invitingly on the goal line. Pernas stabbed the ball home and once again, the Brits most successful attacking tactic chalked up another goal.
The opposition came at the Brits seeking an immediate reply. Borque shut the door on the winger's run down the Brit left with an impressive tackle and the throw was flicked on to the back post. The striker had an eternity of time and space but Wells blocked the shot and then pushed the ball away to avoid a shot on the rebound. The Brits broke with drive and sharp passing with Pernas and Borque combining down the wing, before the cross was cleared. Moments later the opposition number 11 once again caused panic in the Brit back line as he ghosted through three players before Shaw excellently took the ball off his toe as a he prepared to unleash his shot.
The game continued at breakneck speed, the Brits finding good chances down the wings through the running and determination of Shaw and Gilman, before both returning to defence with the same drive. Borque and Pernas were having exceptional games, with pulsating runs at the defence and Rooney was giving a monumental man marking performance at the back. Morris was full of running and was unlucky not to have had two goals to his name as he was picked out by Shaw and Pernas. The defensive work was so successful, Wells had little to do in goal. A free kick brushed the bar but other moments saw him come to collect or punch clear to snuff out the chance to shoot at goal.
The Patachopos were clearly frustrated and Morris almost compounded the misery with an audacious attempt at goal from deep inside his own half. The ball coming down narrowly over the bar as the keeper was spared his blushes back pedalling furiously. We were even treated to a more subdued version of what is now being described as the "Will Whirl" as he pirouetted through a challenge once more. The Brits were playing well as a team and enjoying the game.
The half was concluded as Pernas whipped a fee kick in to the Keeper's near post and saw him at full stretch to push the ball away. The referee called half time and the Brits all felt they had just enjoyed probably the best half of football they had played this season. They were organised at the back and had kept chances to a near zero. they had put together some fluid and exciting attacking moves. Their passing was tight and the running was impressive. They were desperately unlucky not to have been three or maybe four up at the break.
The team were fully aware that the second half would get tougher as legs got tired and the opposition would turn the screw.
The second half continued in the same pattern as the first, The Brits long throw still caused no end of problems for the opposing defence, but it was the speed of the Brit attack as the team swept forward as a unit that was the most glorious thing to behold. The gathered crowd were engaged in the fluid end to end entertainment, but still the Brits resisted and no shots were being unleashed on their goal. Shaw and Gilman continued to run the sidelines with success and Borque continued to roll back the years with youthful running and dribbling at the opposition with stunning consistency.
Wells gave the team a moment of panic when he inexplicably dropped the ball to his feet and dribbled out of his box, but he was pulled back by the striker and a free kick was awarded. The clock continued to tick down and as anticipated the opposition pushed harder, opening space behind them. Morris once again fired narrowly wide as he got into the box onto a Shaw cross and Pernas started to get fouled to avoid his breakout play. He had been a dynamo across the whole pitch, breaking up attacks at the back before charging upfield, or intercepting passes and turning defenders inside out. The opposition started to get more of a look on goal, but Wells was equal to the sporadic efforts, and it started to seem that there were no more goals in this enthralling tie. Then the game went into a whole new phase.
Los Patachopos won a free kick which was within shooting distance. The effort was not as powerful as could be anticipated but it came through Borque's legs and Wells was unsighted until late, the equaliser was a devastating blow as the Brits were clearly tiring. So Morris pulled one of his party pieces out of the back pocket and took a shot from the kick off. The effort clearly took the keeper by surprise and he scrambled to get to the ball. He did save the attempt but the wicked spin on the ball saw it bounce back into the net and what was possibly the fastest goal reply most had ever witnessed.
The opposition then equalised again within moments. This time a Patachopos throw drifted through the box and Gilman hesitated before clearing the ball, he had his pocket picked and Wells was left stranded. They grabbed the ball from the net and felt the momentum was with them. Morris immediately attempted a shot from the kick off and the keeper managed to block the piledriver. Moments later, Morris nearly turned on a through ball from Pernas but Patchopos burst forward on the counter attack. Pernas halted the run and was booked. The resultant free kick was launched round the wall and dipped quickly toward the near post. Wells got a hand to it but for the second time in the match a wicked spin saw the ball bounce back across the face of goal, the winger charged in on the back post and finished in front of the empty net. In a crazy five minutes what had been a solid defence had been rattled by a series of bizarre goals and now the team were staring a defeat in the face after such solid and inspiring performance.
Morris once again eyed up goal and the surreal sight of a team creating a defensive wall from the kick off was born. The effort clipped a defender and the ball spun off the post with the keeper hopelessly unable to get across in time. The resultant corner was flicked out for a throw in on the far by line. The ball fell to Shaw who looked like he could take a shot but frustratingly the ball rolled off his thigh and onto his hand. Time was rapidly running out. The opposition were in no hurry to take the free kick which eventually was sent long to the Brit box. Cleared by Rooney for a throw, the Spanish once more, took their time over launching the ball back in to play. The ball was pin balling around near the Brit corner flag, and coming into the box, Gilman scuffed his clearance and Borque picked up the ball. Once more, he surged up the field and ghosted past tackles, he cut inside and looked to shoot, but the ball was picked off his toe, and spun toward the middle of the park. Things went into slow motion, everyone could see Gilman shaping up to hit the ball, everyone urged him to hit it, he did. It stayed low and flew through the crowd. Morris would later claim a touch but the referee gave the goal to the big man who had tirelessly ran the line all day. The celebrations were of joyous relief. Gilman lifting Wells and Pernas with enthusiasm . He felt he had cancelled out his error for the second goal and Wells was further relieved that his error for the third was also cancelled out.
Patachopos attempted a shot on goal from the kick off which was blocked by Morris and the referee blew for full time. Both teams embraced warmly and there were smiles and congratulations all round. Even the referee had enjoyed the match and the crowd clapped the teams off the field having once again been entertained by a game that for so long had seemed to be destined as an action packed 1-0.
The Brits felt they should have taken all three points and will be encouraged by the performance. it was a wonderful display of discipline and fast flowing football. No one had a below par game, each could be proud of their performance. From solid defending to expansive dribbling and drilled set pieces, the Brits have truly found their rhythm. With two more games remaining before the half way stage of the league season is reached, astonishingly the Brits are now unbeaten in three.
This match report is dedicated to our team mate Adam and his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this unfathomable time of sadness.
Thanks to our sponsors Gallagher Irish Tavern and Liberty English School for your continuing support.