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Three ships came sailing in

Hunters (2) 3

Británicos (2) 2

Bates, Shaw

@CMF Azucarera 19/12/21 17:30

"I've caught a glimpse of him in dreams: expert hunter of himself, every minute in ambush."

Antonio Machado

The festive season was close at hand an the Británicos clearly anticipated a degree of generosity from this opposition. The form book suggested as such with Hunters languishing at the foot of the table with 0 points from 5 games and a minus 26 goal difference.

Set backs in selection saw the Exiles patch together a make shift team once more. Bates was welcomed back to the starting line up but key players such as Wolfenden and Lepore were unavailable. Cordoba had confirmed he would not be returning for the season and then Lasierra and Atrian withdrew and suddenly the team was thin on the ground. Gilman felt he could perform despite injury and Munro made himself available despite a strain. There should have still been enough quality to overcome the league whipping boys, but the heavy fog was to shroud an encounter that was to be far more challenging than anticipated.

The Hunters stung the Brits just over a minute into the tie. A rapid counter attack saw Leal steal the ball from Rooney and then bypass Pernas to open up a run into the Brit half. He took a single touch before hitting his shot low and tight. Wells, deputizing in goal, got his hand on to the shot but the touch was not enough to send the ball wide and it found the far side of the net. It was a humiliating start but also gave the Exiles a wake up call as to what they were facing. The Hunters were organised and quick on the break. They almost doubled their lead a matter of 90 seconds later as a shot rasped across the goal from a break down the Exiles left.

The Brits regrouped and started to pull themselves back into the game and before 5 minutes were on the clock Bates had equalised. A Ferns throw saw the impressive Bates turn his man and avoid a second challenge before smashing the ball home. The drama continued as from the kick off Bates tussled with his marker and the two confronted each other. The referee told the pair to calm themselves but the game had taken a clear turn. The Hunters had identified Bates as the danger man and allocated their heavy guns to him and were determined to get under his skin. The free kick was lofted high into the box to be punched clear by Wells, barely 6 minutes gone and the game as on.

Rooney and Ferns began to assert themselves in defence and Pernas started to show his fleet footwork. The Brits looked more assured, with quick passing moves starting to find opportunities. Bates able to open up the Hunter defence for Gilman and Martin to attack the box. This started to take on even more threat when Shaw switched in for Gilman as the extra pace started to put the Hunter defence further on the back foot. Chances were proving hard to come by for either team as the minutes rolled by.

The Hunters looked to have sprung the trap a little past 16 minutes when a high ball found Bastardo free in the box but his first touch took the ball a little too far away from him and the shot went wide. The Brits continued to show patience in their play but could not find the final pass to unlock the Hunter defence. It was the Hunters that drew blood next, Leal on the left cut inside Shaw and with his right foot found the near post, despite the keeper once more getting a hand to it. Wells was at fault and he was furious. It was a game of few chances and the Hunters had taken theirs for the second time.

The Brits started to build once more and Martin was unlucky not to connect at the far post a few minutes later then Wells rushed a striker in a one on one chance, winning a goal kick by launching the ball back off the opposition player, but it was clear that both teams had nerves at the back. Hunters lack of pace in the defence and Brits with a back up keeper between the sticks. The continued lack of chances was actually a credit to the work rate on both sides.

The game pivoted on a moment at the death of the first half. Bates turned his aggressive marker and played in Shaw who finished with aplomb. There were no celebrations though as Shaw raced to Bates to attempt to break up the swarm of Hunter players surrounding the Brit, jostling him. The Hunters seemed determined to get Bates rattled and at the very least booked. The pair and been tussling off the ball and on it all half and the referee booked both. The Brits were incensed and it seemed that frustration at the weekly techniques of the opposition to attempt to get players booked and cry foul at every opportunity seemed to boil over. Conversations with the referee continued as the half was called to a close moments later.

It had rattled the Brits and they started to the second half with Munro up front to try and avoid further confrontation. It was an obvious solution but also the obvious intention of the opposition aggression. Munro, recovering from a back injury would not be able to pose the same level of threat. The Hunters took control of the pace of the game before Bates was reintroduced. Moments after, the Hunters struck the winner. The Hunters found space on the Brit left, switching out quickly and the strike was hit through the legs of Pernas leaving the keeper little chance. It was infuriating and heart breaking in equal measure.

That frustration was then to be expanded for the remainder of the half as the Hunters started to implement the full play book of time delaying tactics. Slow on the ball, long walks to the touchline and spending longer than needed on the deck. The Brits threw everything into the effort to pull the game level. A strong run by Bates opened the defence and his ball to Martin looked to be enough to score but the Hunter keeper saved and Shaw was unlucky as the keeper made another save on the rebound. Ferns played a delightful back heel to unleash Martin some moments later for the keeper to once again be up the challenge.

Wells made a solid block to keep the Hunters out on the dying minutes and then at the death Pernas and Bates played a wonderful one two but the ball was cleared off the toe of Pernas' boot and it became clear that it was not to be.

It was a well deserved victory for the Hunters. They played a solid game and went to the extreme of the law of the game to isolate the threat to their lead. The Brits felt that this was not the team that had been thrashed in previous matches and it became apparent that some transfer deals had been carried out. The Brits still sit in 5th despite back to back defeats in December. The Azucarera ground has been a miserable venue for the Brits and hopefully 2022 will see a return to the promise of early season.

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


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