Updated: Dec 28, 2019
Brits at liberty to celebrate a thunderous finale to their first season
Los Británicos (0) 5
Peribañz 2, Keane 2, Gilman
Los Patachopos (2) 2
Parque Ebro 28/04/19 19:30
Wells, Rooney, Ferns, Keane, Gilman, Shaw, Preibañez, Kinsella
And so, the final tie of the league season had arrived, and considering the task ahead of the Brits was to win and hope other results went their way to avoid finishing at the foot of the table, the old saying that the journey is more enjoyable than the destination could clearly be felt to weigh upon the team as they warmed up prior to kick off. The weather had arrived at end of season standards as well, as the match was to get underway in a heat that was pleasant to enjoy with a caña, but would sap the legs in a competitive match. The Brits managed to produce a squad little changed from last outing, simply switching in Keane for Bosqued and the return of Kinsella from injury whilst Verenka was absent.
The Exiles could not be accused of having one foot on the beach, the team were pumped up to finish on a high note, but they started with uncharacteristic lethargy. Patachopos, by contrast were bright and full of drive, despite having only produced a squad of seven with no changes, which might end up to prove costly in the heat of late April.
The Exiles were defending with relative confidence, Patachopos probing attacks not producing anything of real threat, but in attack they seemed to fall short of that final ball, with moves breaking down or coming to nothing. Some speculative shots were hit wildly off the mark much like the opposition nothing seemed to generate any real threat. Patachopos broke the nervous deadlock with an absurd goal that came out of nothing. With an attack down the Brit right hand side pushed wide the attacker mishit a cross that seemed to slice and bend in the air beating Wells at the near post. It was such an unexpected goal the scorer almost felt awkward celebrating.
The goal infuriated Wells who started to come for balls and on more than one occasion ran out of his area to distribute from feet, his enthusiasm unnerved his team mates and the Exiles struggled to return to their calm composed style of football. A flash of the old spirit returned as a slick team passing move found Peribañez at the far post. As he jinked past a host of defenders and left another keeper sprawled helplessly on the floor you would have put your life savings on him to level up the match, but on this occasion, the ball went a fraction wide and the Brits were stunned.
Patachopos shortly afterwards doubled their lead, a well taken shot from outside the box that left the Brits cursing their forlorn luck. It seemed the league campaign would conclude with a whimper, shortly before half time the defence was carved open and the opposition struck the post before the Brits smothered the ball. The break could not come soon enough as something was needed to turn this game around.
The half time opinion was that the Brits had enough to overcome this team, they believed they had the quality to test the opposition goal keeper to greater effect and the defence was solid enough to withstand the onslaught. The goals had not been the result of any self inflicted error and the game plan was to wrestle control back of the game and take it to the opposition.
This is not quite how things emerged. The early stages of the second half saw Patachopos looking to press their advantage home and kill the game off, the Brits playing with more urgency found themselves stretched. A swift attack down the Brit right found the opposition one on one with the keeper who saved well, moments later they streamed forward again and it was down to the keeper to pull off another save to keep the Brits at the races. Things were starting to look more optimistic up front as well though.
The ceaseless running of Shaw and the sheer bloody mindedness of Gilman or Kinsella on the wings were starting to bear fruit. Keane and Peribañez finding a yard of space in the box, with Ferns and Rooney bombing forward to add to numbers. The Patachopos were holding on, but the Brits were getting closer to pulling one back in the hunt. Attacking in total waves did leave the risk of being carved open on the counter attack and it came down once again to Wells in goal, now playing like he had been a keeper all his life and enjoying the role, once more kept out the Patachopos attack, this time earning a call of congratulations for the opposition striker for his latest block, closing down the angle and pushing the ball out for a corner.
From a corner the Brits won a ray of light, breaking back up the other end, Rooney had a strong header inadvertently blocked by Peribañez but he was able to stab the loose ball home himself and spirits started to rise. Patachopos, responded by throwing the kitchen sink at the Brit goal. An astonishing attempted lob caught Wells off guard but went just wide of the post. The Brits actually took the game by the scruff of the neck from the goal kick, passing the ball quickly from the back up to Shaw who cut inside to find Peribanez free to convert and level the game. It was not just the goal but the team combination that lifted the Brits. The Patachopos were now feeling the pressure, it seemed inevitable that the tide would turn to the Brits, but the enthusiasm to take the lead saw the defence continue to push high up the pitch, a moment of confusion on the edge of the box saw the Patachopos break in numbers, with a front line bearing down on the keeper it seemed the script would change once more, but the striker opted to go for goal rather than pass around the keeper and Wells got a finger to the shot putting it over the bar. They pushed to restore their lead once more, with a fierce shot lashed at goal from the long corner. Wells pushed the ball to the feet of Keane who distributed out to Peribanez. The cheerful assassin surged forward bounding up the pitch with Patachopos defenders in his wake. As they closed in on him he threaded the ball onward for Gilman on the left wing. The tall winger bounded forward, his first touch taking the ball further wide but clear of the keeper and he kept his composure to slot the ball home. He wheeled away jubilantly, arms outstretched to take the adulation of the onlooking tree line, before being buried under a joyous sea of white shirts. The Brit comeback had seen two delightful team goals pull apart the opposition, building from the back and a score line that looked utterly unlikely at the end of the first half.
To their credit Patachopos did not roll over, but pressed ahead once more, only for the Brits to add a further cushion to their lead as Keane chested down a Ferns throw and beat the keeper with a solid drive. It was now party football, a second half performance to be proud of had been produced. The Brits had rode their luck in the early stages but had not conceded and taken their own chances. There was more to come however, as the most memorable save of the match saw an astounding reflex reaction. An impressive shot from the edge of the error took a wicked deflection off Ferns in defence. Wells already committed to the dive managed to push the ball over the bar with his trailing hand. He didn’t know a great deal about it, but it certainly looked impressive. It was clearly his determined desire to keep a clean sheet in the second half. The outfield efforts added a further goal to the rout as Keane doubled his tally from the edge of the box.
The game drew to a close with warm handshakes all round. It had been a well fought and respectful contest, both teams had enjoyed their football and appreciated the efforts and conduct of the opposition. The Brits were further thrilled to discover that other results had gone their way and they had managed to avoid the ignominy of finishing at the foot of the league pyramid . The cup begins with the first of the group stage matches this forthcoming weekend and maybe the belief reinstalled by that second half barn stormer can help the Exiles realise something special in the weeks to come.
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