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A breathtaking recovery

Updated: Nov 7, 2021

Outnumbered and outgunned, Brits confound expectations

Arsenal Delicias (1) 3

Británicos (1) 3

Martin, Borque, Peribañez,

Parque Ebro 08/03/20 18:45

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt, Paris, April 23 1910

Recent events have rather overtaken us all, and this report is being written from the future, ina time in which our world has changed and the footballing competition has not moved on as we would all have hoped. Instead, we sit at home and wait.

The Brits had an enthusiasm about this tie. They had every reason to be optimistic, enjoying the best spell of results in their short history and demonstrating they had nothing to fear from any opposition in this league. This clash started with that belief in doubt, missing four influential key players in Morris, De Vicente, Ferns and Piernas.

With such key characters missing, it seemed that the makeshift team would naturally struggle. The invention and creativity of the team hollowed out. To top it all, Ferns had been the natural go to choice for midfield general and now, the team were bereft of his guile too.

The team started with Martin up top, Gilman and Wolfenden patrolling the wings and Borque in the centre. Wells and Rooney as the back line pair and Beattie between the sticks. Shaw started on the bench and Peribañez in the changing rooms having arrived fashionably late!

Gilman had an early long range effort that put the keeper under pressure and was an indicator that the match would be open and full of opportunity. The Brits held their own. Passing well, attacking with determination and defending with not only confidence but a degree of grace, an air of calmness. The opposition showed flashes of quality but seemed a little ragged in their build up play, enabling the Brit defence vital seconds to break up play. Despite that, Arsenal took the lead midway through the first half despite some industry and energy from the Brits. It was a well worked goal with a degree of luck, a slight deflection changing the path of the ball away from an intervening boot. The response was immediate. Straight from kick off Martin smacked the ball goalward and caught the keeper off guard. Parity was restored before breath could be drawn.

As the first half came to a close, it was the Brits who were on top, forcing saves and desperate lunges from the opposition as they threatened to take the lead.

Half time saw a tired but enthusiastic Brits regroup with a belief they could take this game despite the limitations in depth. The second half started terribly though. Arsenal Delicias clearly shifted into a higher gear and stole a march on the Brits. Two quick goals came from a change in personnel and tactics, flooding the final third and playing the ball around the defence and suddenly the Brits were trailling by two.

The Exiles, adapted, and clung on for dear life as Beattie, Wells and Rooney threw their bodies on the line to not allow the deficit to grow. It was a desperate affiar. Rugged challenges, leaping saves and mountainous heroics saw the Brits hang on, and the opposition crashed waves of attacks onto the English rocks, eager to put the impudent invaders to the sword. As the half progressed, tiredness started to creep into their game and the Brits began to exploit the new found gaps and possession. Shaw, Gilman and Wolfenden on rotation on the wings started to show their pace despite the searing burn in their lungs, Borque, defied father time in the centre of the park and began to show his strength and desire. Breaking up attacks and sending the ball up to the baby faced assassin Peribañez, finding new opportunities up front. In one such move, he held up the ball and laid it off for Borque to arrive, like a thundering express train with a foot like the hammer of the Gods to hit the ball with such force that even the air howled with fear. The keeper stood no chance. The Brits erupted and the Delicias players slumped. There was still a goal between the two teams, but the tide had turned.

The Exiles began to play some extraordinary total football. the entire team surging forward in inexplicable waves of energetic desire. This game was for the taking, this tam were not the better of them, this was destiny, this was belief, this was F.C Británicos.

Peribañez was fed opportunities and on at least two occasions had the Brits in despair as he inexplicably put the ball wide, but he came good. After uncharacteristically missing easier chances he did pull the game level, daintily skipping through the defence like a rejoneo horse, seeking the moment to drop his shoulder and complete the dance by sending the keeper and a final defender the wrong way and rolling the ball home.

The Brits smothered him in joy. A bundle of tired arms and legs and smiles. It was not just the struggle in coming level, it was the feeling they could still snatch the game. They continued to press and Gilman found himself doing his own dance through the opposition, breaking through challenges with sheer determination and closing down on goal, as the last challenge came in he fell and his hand went under a wayward boot. It was clear he was seriously hurt and as the ball spilled away he stayed on the ground. Arsenal Delicias attacked on the counter only to be denied by a quite simply extraordinary save from Beattie who had been left to patrol the back line alone. It was to be the last of the action and both teams shared the spoils. It was a worthy battle indeed. All those tired gladiators with sand in their eyes and blood in their veins appreciated the contest. The referee congratulated the two teams on an entertaining and hard fought affair.

Gilman would undergo surgery on a damaged ligament in his hand with a sense of relief that COVID lockdown meant he did not miss any games during his recovery. The Brits hold the third best defensive record in the league and have been having a great 2020 until lockdown. The boys patiently wait for their chance to not only take to the field but to break bread and share beers together once more. It seems the entire population of the western world are players in that arena now.

Thanks to our sponsor Gallagher Irish Tavern for your continuing support.


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