Updated: Dec 28, 2019
Exiles rue missed chances after a solid performance crumbles at the death
Alianza Planet (2) 5
Los Británicos (0) 1
Parque Ebro 07/04/19 16:30
Wells, Rooney, Slater, Ferns, Keane, Morris, Verenka, Gilman, Shaw, Preibañez
For the first time this season the Brits finished a tie downcast. In what had been a tight affair until the last 5 minutes. The match was played in unfavourably warm conditions under an azure sky that served as a reminder of just how close we are to the end of the campaign. The Brits white shirts gleamed in the sun drenched afternoon. The opposition held the dominance in possession and teased and prodded at the Brit defence searching for weaknesses. The pairing of Rooney and Ferns in the back line were having none of it and played a partnership of stunning quality in the face of persistent probing. Imperious and defiant they claimed balls that seemed destined to be out of reach. Despite the solid defence Alianza did find two opportunities, the first coming back off the near post and the second palmed away for a corner after a potentially disastrous deflection off an outstretched interception by Gilman.
The Brits seemed to be unable to build effectively in attack though, losing second balls or passing opportunities falling short. When their moves did click, they attacked with speed and drive, quick passing unlocking the path on goal but a killer final ball or shot was lacking. Keane tested the keeper with a solid drive but otherwise the game remained in uneasy balance.
The deadlock was broken after a freekick was awared for a mistimed tackle by Ferns. The striker had changed direction and Ferns was unable to withdraw from his challenge. Wells saved the freekick but was unsighted as a second shot came in. It was a frustrating way to concede but on consideration a fair reflection of the work the opposition had put in. They had combined well in their attacking moves in a fascinating battle with the Brit back line.
The Exiles produced a period of sustained pressure in response. Shaw and Gilman running the wings well, putting the defenders on the back foot. Several throws and corners in succession saw Peribañez head the ball back across goal, to only go wide of the far post. Verenka got to a header on a far post ball denying Keane lining up behind him.
As the second half came to a close the Brits were caught out by a speculative effort that squirmed under Wells in goal and were desperately unlucky to go into the break two down. Having kept their shape, nerve and patience they had been undone by some uncharacteristic shyness in front of goal and some bad luck at the back.
The second half seemed to see the heat start to make an impact and the Brits started to apply the squeeze. The game started to open up and stretch a little, although despite that, Alianza only broke through the Brit line once with Wells saving in the resultant one on one. Brit passing started to find gaps up front. Verenka, a solid presence harrying across the field, Shaw full of relentless youthful running getting in behind the defence and Morris combining well with Keane opening up chances on goal. As the clock ticked away the match remained in a finely poised 2- which did not feel secure at all. The match was then to witness two moments of wonder which transformed the contest.
A rapid break from the Brit back line saw the ball sprayed out to the left to be headed on by Morris toward Keane. The Scouse trickster then amazed all by executing a stunning overhead kick with his back to goal. The ball looped over the keeper and the momentum seemed to shift toward the Exiles.
Alianza broke with a sudden drive and the Brit defence reset to position. The attack was pushed out for a corner which Wells punched clear and the Brits pressed for an equalizer and with a run down the right. Shaw unlocked the defence and put in a cross which was taken out of the path of a Brit striker. The opposition charged forward but the Brit defence seemed sure in forcing the opposition into another harmless long distance effort. Instead the Alianza striker attempted an absurd shot off the outside of his boot which swerved out to the far post and in. It was an astonishing and skillful reply to the Brit style and it broke the resistance.
The defence was left exposed as the midfield threw themselves into trying to retaliate and Alianza suddenly had space and time to attack. A powerful drive at the near post got past the outstretched glove of Wells low down to his right and while he was still cursing that strike they hit another as they dragged the Brit back line to the left and pulled a shot into the right hand side of the goal. Once again, despite getting a hand to the effort, the ball was in.
5-1 was probably not a fair reflection of the closeness of the match, although it would have been very hard on Alianza if the Brits had mustered a draw. The disappointment was palpable for the exhausted Brits who had held their shape and played with commitment and careful thought for most of the game. The game was good-natured and an honest contest which could have been so very different if that period of first half pressure had been converted.
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