Gibraltar denied the three points through an unfortunate deflection
Just a year after Gibraltar women’s futsal had played its first ever official full international competitive futsal qualifier match Gibraltar’s expectations thanks to the feats of its squad were clearly seen through the "disappointed" faces of fans after seeing their team draw against Moldova via an unfortunate deflection from one of their own players.
The disappointment was not over the players’ performance or critical against the result but at the fact Gibraltar fans felt the players had been denied a deserved celebration after such a short period of time in the international scene and having led just three minutes to the final whistle. It was a disappointment for the players as the latter had gained the hearts of those supporting them in the stands. A testament to how Gibraltar women's football was turning heads through its rapid development.
Moldova had been seen as the team to beat and which would set Gibraltar’s place in the international scene at this early stage. However, Moldova, who had been beaten by Belgium 12-1 just the previous day, were far from the side that had been seen just 24 hours earlier. The visitors viewed Gibraltar with a similar objective, bringing to the court a respect for Gibraltar which had been earned from last seasons dramatic draw against Belgium, and stepping up their game to stamp their own mark on things.
Moldova succeeded in doing this for the early part of the match as they maintained the score at 0-0. Gibraltar struck first with just over seven minutes of the first half to play. Naomi Victor adding her second goal in the qualifiers. The celebrations did not last for long as Moldova set about to spoil the party and within a minute had levelled at 1-1.
The Gibraltar team kept prodding at Moldova hassling their way into goal opportunities and tallying up the corners.
Some good movement up front as Gibraltar started to get the feel for the use of the long ball to the pivot opened up space as Joelle Gilbert and Tiffany Viagas struck for goal.
Moldova did find their way to Gibraltar’s goal but were met by some fine saves from Caitlin Robba who was to repeat her antics in the second half to keep Gibraltar in the game.
As everything looked at going for both sides finishing the first half on level terms, a last second corner provided Gibraltar with a chance to strike at goal which saw Joelle Gilbert put the ball in the back of the net just as the buzzer rung out.
The goal was to stand with Gibraltar going into the break in the lead.
Going on the offensive and starting to make more headway upfront, especially with the long ball forward now starting to fall at the feet of the player, Gibraltar found themselves ahead 3-1 after Dahlia Salah struck for goal.
With confidence rising Gibraltar went looking for another goal but were denied time and again as Moldova held on, although accumulating the fouls.
After a short lull in the momentum and with Naomi Victor being treated for an injury Moldova struck a blow to Gibraltar’s hopes as they cut the deficit to just the one goal.
Although Caitlin had been called upon to come up with a handful of good stops it was Gibraltar piling the pressure and looking as the one who could grab the next goal. It was not to happen for them.
Instead, fortune was to go against them as a gamble punt to goal saw Holt put her foot out for a block and saw the ball rise over the keeper and into the top corner. The Gibraltar defender, who had done what she had been expected as a defender, looking in disbelief as Moldova celebrated having levelled the score.
With Moldova having accumulated the six fouls Gibraltar were awarded two penalty fouls. The first taken by Tiffany Viagas saved by Moldova’s keeper, the second just moments later going just wide of its target by Joelle Gilbert.
Gibraltar were unable to overturn their misfortune and were held to a 3-3 draw. What otherwise, on any other occasion would have been considered a historic success by obtaining their first competitive group points in the competition, was instead seen as a “disappointment” on the day after Gibraltar had come to within three minutes of grabbing their first victory. Although few would see it as a disappoint on how women’s football was developing. Instead highlighting to what extend women’s football in Gibraltar was slowly starting to capture people’s imagination and inspiring young players to follow. Once again the Tercentenary Sports Hall filled up, with a crowd who rose to the occasion to support their team when they saw Moldova level the score.
A resilient performance, with a no surrender attitude by the young Gibraltar women’s futsal talents provided a further proof why expectations had been so high for them, but more importantly had once again set the tone where Gibraltar women’s football was setting its own parameters on what level they wished to be seen at.
Not content as the minnows at the early stages of their international pathway, Gibraltar women’s futsal had set its objectives as a team who wanted to be taken seriously as a contender for qualification into the main group.
With Slovakia drawing against Belgium just hours earlier, Gibraltar’s match against the latter once again becomes another bid towards their bid for qualification, however, with only the prospect of a runners up spot considering the goal difference that now exists between the two.
For Gibraltar a win by Moldova against Slovakia could see them leapfrog the latter if they can beat Belgium with what will be a two-goal-plus goal difference as a target. If Slovakia, as is expected as one of the favorites of the group beat Moldova, Gibraltar would need to score 12 plus against Belgium, a task which although not impossible, is highly unlikely to happen with Belgium already seen as one of the powerhouses in the group.
Gibraltar women’s football, however, have been writing their own pages in Gibraltar’s futsal. Where once merely keeping down the score against a side such as Belgium would have been seen as sufficient, the young team have already shown that they have no intention of being considered as the minnows of football, and are expected to put in a fight which many hope will be enough to come away one better than the last official competitive match in which the two met and where Gibraltar produced a draw on their debut.