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Gibraltar 1-0 Latvia

Gibraltar 1-0 Latvia

Walker’ 83

 

It was a day the vast majority of Gibraltarian football fans had been eagerly anticipating and ultimately longing for. The first time they could watch their beloved national team, in Gibraltar for two years. The first time in two years that they could wear their red and white with pride and march down to the Victoria Stadium to watch their country in action.

There was an air of expectancy around the Victoria Stadium as the gates opened. Despite the unsettled weather conditions.  Despite the fact that this afternoons opponents were, ironically the last team to play an international fixture in Gibraltar (winning resoundingly 5-0).

Interim Head Coach Desi Curry had to call up two players from the U21 squad as Mikey Yome and John Paul Duarte had been ruled out through injury during the course of the week. Tjay De Barr and Shaun De Los Santos were their replacements.

And worse was yet to come. Half way through the warm up Joseph Chipolina pulled up and was ruled out of the match. Step up young Louie Annesley to make his full debut. The very late change meant Jayce Olivero switched to left back and Annesley took his place in the heart of the Gibraltar defence alongside the captain Roy Chipolina.

Annesley was not the only one making his full debut. Popular Goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin was to finally get his chance. Entrusted with the number 1 shirt for this match, an opportunity that he had been waiting for, for some now, was not one he was going to take for granted.

As the game kicked off Gibraltar started off much the hungrier of the two teams. This really meant something to those in the red jersey. They were home, and they had their fans behind them.  

Lee Casciaro was proving a nuisance to the Latvian defence up front. The returning Jake gosling was proving a great foil for Casciaro just behind the talismanic number 7.  Walker and Bardon sat in midfield with Hernandez and Pons providing Gibraltar’s width. Early touches for Goldwin between the posts settled any nerves the debutant may have had.

Casciaro had Gibraltar’s best effort of the first half, his curling shot whistling just past the post form almost twenty yards out. And just as Gibraltar seemed to be on top another setback. Casciaro pulled up and immediately called for a substitution. A hamstring injury meant his Lincoln team mate George Cabrera replaced him up front.  

The sides went in to the half time interval at 0-0.

A triple change for Latvia at the break did not give them the boost the needed, only a somewhat freak  deflection off Liam Walker called Goldwin into action once again.

Jamie Bosio came on Alain Pons for some fresh legs on Gibraltar’s left. And Louie Annesley took a knock to the shin which saw the youngster come off to a standing ovation from the home crowd, with the experienced and hungry Ryan Casciaro as his replacement.

With just over 10 minutes to go Anthony Bardon had a sight of goal but the midfielder fired wide from the edge of the box.

Tjay De Barr was Gibraltar’s next substitute. Desi Curry introduced yet more young fresh legs with De Barr, yet another debutant, replacing Anthony Hernandez.

The home support was and its effect was evident, there was only one side who looked like winning and Gibraltar were duly awarded a free kick but Jake Gosling was booked for claiming the wall was not back the 10 yards. Liam Walker stood over the ball and his free kick took a wicked deflection off the Latvian wall, wrong footing the keeper and nestling nicely into the bottom corner. 1-0 Gibraltar and the Victoria Stadium erupted. This was the first international goal Gibraltar had scored, on Gibraltarian soil for 4 years!

JC Garcia replaced Gosling just as the 4th official indicated 4 added minutes. Four minutes that seemed like an eternity for the vast majority of those packed in to the Victoria Stadium. Latvia tried to push forward with an urgency they had lacked throughout the game but it was to no avail. The referee brought the match to an end and cue scenes of jubilation and celebration.

Gibraltar’s first victory as a FIFA member. Only Gibraltar’s second ever victory since joining UEFA. Gibraltar’s first international Victory on home soil. Gibraltar’s first clean sheet in two years.

There was an air of expectancy around the Victoria Stadium before kick-off, but surely only those who dared to dream could have imagined the Gibraltar beating Latvia 1-0. WE ARE HOME!

A massive thank you to everyone who came down to the Victoria Stadium all those watching on TV.

Gibraltar: Goldwin, Sergeant, Chipolina R ©, Annesley (Sub Casciaro.R) Olivero, Pons (Sub Bosio), Bardon, Walker, Hernandez (Sub De Barr), Gosling (Sub Garcia), Casciaro L (Sub Cabrera). Subs not used, Banda, De Los Santos, Garro,

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