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Dull start but some positives for Lions and Europa Point

It was a dull start for both Lions Gibraltar and Europa Point, at least for the first fifty minutes of the
match. The foggy, humid weather that was loitering just around the stadium didn’t make it a much
better ambience.
The match had been expected to see many local players fielded. However, to everyone’s surprise,
Lions Gibraltar started with just the minimum four home grown players, even though their bench
had players like Alan Parker among them. There had also been some expectation to see former
Leicester and Aston Villa player, Julian Joachim, now with Europa Point on the field. Yet this was also
not to materialise.
Europa Point was nevertheless to field the first Japanese player to play in the Gibraltar league with
Tsurumi playing. Also, in the first eleven was Jeremy Lopez who had this week made the transition
from Gibraltar Phoenix to Europa Point. Another player also making the transition was Tito De
Torres, who made his appearance in the second half.
The match saw both teams very equal in strengths with the first half producing few chances
between them and play generally concentrating in the centre of the field.
Both teams seemed nervous, neither knowing much about the other’s strengths and weaknesses,
with this being their first match together.
As the match warmed up, the intensity of play was to increase. Lions started to take control of
possession more, pinning Europa Point for large parts of the second half into their area. Some
excellent goalkeeping from Europa Point keeper O’Keefe ensured that they kept a clean sheet. Lions
looked the most likely to score during the second half.
However, Europa Point demonstrated that they could mount some very effective quick breaks from
the back with the Lions defence having to chase back.
The first half had seen Lions defending deep themselves with at least one chance for Europa Point
cleared off the line by a defender. The ball was on the other foot though in the second half as Lions
gained confidence. A side who had struggled to get points last season, stuck firmly at the foot of the
table throughout most of the season, gained their first point with a scoreless draw.
The match also highlighted the new rules which have emerged this season with the GFA and League
opting to categorise matches in order to reduce the number of officials being used. The match had
no fourth official by the touchline. This meant that both the linesman and referees had to be
monitoring what was going on by the bench.
A no nonsense approach by referee Herbert Warwick was soon seen when Europa Point’s new head
coach Allen Bula received his marching orders after confronting a Lions player over a tackle on one
of his players and subsequent comments made. Mr Bula, who last season also faced numerous
sanctions, was to start the season with his first on his official competitive debut for Europa Point, the
head coach looking up at the stands to where the heads of the Gibraltar referee association’s sat
with a gesture of open arms as if asking “why?”
This was the second scoreless result in just three matches in the National League highlighting the
proximity that now exists between sides this season. With more home-grown players now playing
for each club and teams more evenly matched due to many teams taking the option to invest less
finances into clubs, the first matches in the league have already signalled a change in what could be
the prospects of some clubs.
Europa Point is expected to field new players within the next weeks after officials revealed that
some players they had signed had as yet not completed their transfer process. With the deadline for
this to be completed now coming up it is expected that the international release of some players will
see new players coming in which is likely to change further the expectations for each club.