Bruno Magpies forced to make a comeback to grab first three points
Mons Calpe 2-4 Bruno Magpies
Mons Calpe sprung an early surprise, turning what was anticipated to be a routine match for Bruno Magpies into an unexpected challenge. The opener came courtesy of John Paul Duarte for Mons Calpe.
Despite Bruno Magpies controlling possession after conceding, they struggled to find a clear path to the goal. Mons Calpe adopted a defensive stance and pressed high, making it tough for Bruno Magpies to break through. It was evident that lessons had been learned from their previous defeat against a nine-man Glacis United, with their defensive vulnerabilities addressed, at least for the first part of this match.
Bruno Magpies, who had triumphed over Lincoln Red Imps in the Pepe Reyes Cup, had difficulty finding the final ball in the initial half-hour. Their possession advantage yielded little in the way of an equalizer, marking a bumpy start to their 2023/24 league campaign.
Mons Calpe, without offering much in terms of spectacle, diligently protected their lead, slowly eroding Bruno’s confidence. The minutes ticked away swiftly towards halftime, and Bruno’s attempts at goal mostly consisted of long-distance shots.
Bruno Magpies came agonizingly close to leveling the score in the 41st minute, breaking through the defense and leaving the keeper facing a one-on-one situation. A superb save from Fraiz denied what appeared to be a certain goal.
Unfortunately for Mons Calpe, they couldn’t maintain their lead into halftime. In the dying seconds of injury time, Magpies leveled the score with a spectacular goal from outside the box that struck the underside of the crossbar before beating the keeper.
The second half provided Bruno Magpies with an opportunity to regroup and adjust their tactics against a Mons Calpe side that had taken them by surprise.
Bruno dominated possession from the kick-off, showing more intensity and a higher tempo than in the early stages of the first half. However, Mons Calpe, despite losing their lead, maintained their compact defensive formation, denying Bruno Magpies any clear goal-scoring chances.
Bruno continued to press Mons Calpe’s goal but encountered a resilient defense. The physicality of the match increased as fouls accumulated.
Mons Calpe’s keeper, Fraiz, produced excellent saves to thwart Bruno Magpies’ attempts to take the lead. With 20 minutes to go, Mons Calpe was forced to make a substitution due to an injury sustained during a challenge.
Despite their dominance in possession, Bruno Magpies found themselves thwarted by a determined Mons Calpe defense, content to protect the one point, which was unexpected considering Bruno’s pre-match favoritism.
For Bruno Magpies, a draw represented a two-point drop in what is expected to be a closely contested battle for the top spots in the league. This was not the kind of start anticipated, especially with the return of their head coach after a brief departure over the summer.
Changes within the club during his absence had clearly affected the squad that had contended for the title last season and won the Rock Cup.
As the match entered its final ten official minutes, Magpies encountered a solid defensive wall that refused to yield. It was Bruno’s ideas that appeared to be lacking as they struggled to break into the final third.
The sharpness displayed against Lincoln Red Imps was absent, and the psychological battle seemed to be going Mons Calpe’s way until the 83rd minute when Bruno Magpies finally created an opportunity. A corner floated to the near post was expertly flicked past defenders and the keeper for a goal. It was a moment of relief for the weary Magpies.
Mons Calpe responded by attempting to push the game into Magpies’ half and apply pressure. However, a resolute defense protected their lead, and they wisely slowed down the pace when in possession to deny Mons Calpe any chance to regain offensive momentum.
This tactical approach paid off as Bruno Magpies found a third goal in the 87th minute, turning a hard-fought comeback, which had seemed unlikely at one point, into a comfortable victory in the dying moments.
Nine agonising minutes of injury time provided Bruno Magpies with their fourth and final goal as Mons Calpe crumbled. The latter, however, searched for a final goal and found the net to make it 4-2 as the Magpies eased off their tempo.
Despite the victory, the match served as a reminder to Bruno Magpies that their pursuit of the title, following recent successes, will be far from straightforward.