Updated: Mar 1
The Brits put in a towering performance and a Peribañez Jal-Three-Zee!
Británicos (1) 3
M Auto F7 (1) 3
Parque Ebro 05/12/19 18:15
Beattie, Ferns, Rooney, Shaw, Martin, Gilman, De Vicente, Wells, Peribañez
The Exiles had enjoyed an indulgent team social the night before this final match of the calendar year. Having introduced the Spanish members of the squad to the culinary adventure of a curry and the cultural pits of a Brit boys night in the pub. On paper, this was potentially the worst preparation possible for a tough encounter with a high achieving new arrival to the league. Combined with a lengthy injury and absentee list of Keane, Morris, Pernas, Borque, Clapson and Wolfenden, the Brits were certainly in for a torrid time. The Saturday night session was certainly a much needed opportunity to bond and build some team spirit after a run of tough results.
Newly instilled in the church of Dad, Beattie made a welcome return to the nets and Peribañez declared himself available shortly before kick off, six of the nine match day players had been together late into the night previously and faced the encounter with good humour and quiet determination.
The match got underway at a furious pace. The opposition, hailing from Romania, immediately put the Brit brittleness under pressure. The one sided defeats at the hand of last seasons run away league champions who had also been a Romanian team, left the Brits feeling nervous. The mathc settled into a fairly clear pattern. M Auto probing with long balls, playing to an impressive number ten who used his body, strength and guile to cause havoc amongst the Brits back line. They had a second striker sitting just behind their number ten and the two consistently threatened to pull the Brit defence apart. As they adjusted to the tactic, Martin in midfield came deeper to help cover the defensive gaps but this left the Brits struggling to find options when trying to surge forward on the counter attack.
The opposition number ten opened the scoring, which was not a surprise. On a rare occasion when M-Auto mixed up their approach and penetrated down the wing. Dragging the ball across the centre the number ten peeled away from Rooney and converted past Beattie with enthusiasm.
The Eastern Europeans seemed to not be opening up into second gear and looked comfortable. The Brits were undaunted and tried to maintain their pass and run game.
It was through the wingers releasing the ball to De Vicnente up front that the Brits started to work their way back into the game. Both Gilman and Shaw showed solid running and invention in bringing the M-Auto team back toward their own goal and De Vicnente and Martin both were unlucky not to have got on the scoresheet in the Exiles counter attacks.
Rooney was on the receiving end of an impressive, bone shuddering collision with the Romanian defensive tank, "Bogdan"! The tackle left Rooney's shin pad cracked and rather than run off the injury he swapped out for Wells. But it was the earlier substitution of Peribañez that was beginning to show real promise for the Exiles. The ever unassuming striker immediately drew attention from the opposition and was frequently taken down or held back. He was winning free kicks which saw the Brits go close a couple of times. The Romanians struck the post in one of their attacks and felt aggrieved they had not doubled their lead. Some of the tussles were becoming as spicy as the Spanish post curry digestive movements and the Romanians felt they should have been awarded free kicks and then a penalty as they played on the edge of the legal definition of contact sport. In defence, Ferns and Wells were just able to make the striker go wide or run out of control but were forever on the edge of disaster. It made the equalizer so much sweeter.
Wells with a throw to Ferns who played a one two with Martin before releasing Ferns down the wing. His ball found De Vicinte who released Peribañez to the left of the box. He shimmied one way and side stepped the other before finding the net with seemingly gleeful ease. It brought the curtain down on a scintillating first half and as the players took their rest, it was clear the Romanians were frustrated and divided. The Brits were as cool as cucumber and cumin yoghurt dip on a fresh poppadom. They had been playing second fiddle for most of the half but the last five minutes had shown them stride tall and start to play some lovely interconnecting football that had made the opposition look slow and flat footed. There was everything to play for.
The second half was to be a glorious and scintillating affair. The Romanians rotated their "man in the hole" and immediately that caused difficulties at the back. Both their number ten and the new introduced number six found the two Brit defenders having to man mark and opening up problems as other players rushed to join the attack. Predictably, before the Brits could get a handle on the assault they were punished and the Romanians restored their lead.
Despite the mountain to climb, the Brits held their nerve. The game was certainly not out of their reach and they restarted with the uncharacteristic calm that had punctuated the afternoon performance. It was to reap the rewards as what followed was the best spell of football they had played in months. Pin ball passes turned the opposition defenders and found space for the runners. De Vicente and Shaw or Gilman causing havoc on the lines. Defence settled and got a handle on their foe. The direction of travel took a marked turn and the M-Auto were suddenly cynically challenging to break up attacks. The defensive line crept back, tighter to the Romanian goal, the Brits probed deeper into their territory. Peribañez found Wells from a corner but the slightest of touches from the keeper on the way in meant the ball was headed over in what seemed certain to be his first club goal. De Vicente, with characteristic determination stole the ball from their midfield and slashed a shot that had the keeper lunging to deny him at the post.
Then the earth moved. It came down to Peribañez to exert his assassins blade. A throw in from Martin saw Gilman pull a defender out of position. De Vicente clattered the ball from close range and it fell to Peribañez who reacted on instinct to back heel the rebound back past the onrushing keeper and two defenders to find the goal. The Brits burst into celebration.
The momentum was irresistible and it continued to flow unabated to the Romanian end of the pitch. They were desperate to break up the flowing Brit moves and with increasing frustration became more and more cynical which the Brits were happy to take advantage of. Another free kick won by Peribañez saw Wells chip the ball delicately into his path only for the keeper to scramble wide. The resulting corner was cleared only for the Brits to immediately recover at the back and launch forward once more. Rooney performing his trademark Will Whirl in the Brit third of the park and released the ball to Martin. He played an exchange with Shaw and they opened up space for De Vicente who played across the box to the resolute Peribañez who once more put two on the floor and curled the ball into the far post to put the Brits ahead for the first time since their opening fixture of the league. Peribañez had captured a hat trik, but both goals had come through liquid passing football throughout the team.
The relief and joy was palpable but so was the awareness that now they needed to see the game out. The Brits did not relinquish their grip on the throttle but the opposition did throw their kitchen sink at the Brit defence.
The outrage and frustration that the opposition had unloaded on the referee assisted the Brits as they now returned the favour by dishing out sturdy challenges. But the Auto crew did snatch back an equalizer. Outnumbering the Brits at the back post after they had held back the tide valiantly and the teams were back on par. The game once more edged back the other way and the Romanians looked to punish and steal the points. Wells and Rooney both broke up attacking play with solid challenges much to the frustration of the opposition who claimed blue murder only to be dismissed by the referee. In the dying moments Beattie produced two utterly outstanding saves as the opposition found gaps between the defensive tired legs and then a final one on one with the opposition number ten, who must have though he would take the points, Beattie, first tackled him, then took the ball back off the striker's feet to take the ball and a share of the points.
Both teams embraced warmly after the game. It had been played in an open and free spirit and in a much more gritty style than the Spanish teams are used to playing. Everyone had enjoyed a fast moving and entertaining struggle and the Brits have extended their tradition of a barnstorming tie as the last game before Christmas!!
Thanks to our sponsor Gallagher Irish Tavern for your continuing support.