Europa and St Joseph’s bring to second leg away goal advantages
Both Europa FC and St Joseph will be playing their second legs at home at the Victoria Stadium this week knowing that they have what could become crucial away goal advantages.
Both sides, however, had different fates in their first leg encounters of the Europa League preliminary rounds.
Europa’s early lead against Andorra’s Sant Julia was cancelled out just before half time as an error in defence allowed the hosts to score.
Europa, who had the better of play during the first half came out of the blocks with some determination as they scored their second away goal placing them in the lead.
Although controlling the pace of the match Europa did not capitalise on their lead and allowed Sant Julia to come back into the match. The equaliser set the home side off to look for a winner.
Europa were dealt a blow when in injury time they conceded the third goal, which saw Sant Julia make an extraordinary comeback with just ten men.
The Gibraltar Rock Cup champions once again faltered away from home and will have to secure a win at the Victoria Stadium next week.
The match saw debuts for some of Europa’s new signings including Juampe and Olivero. However, it was their first eleven which saw the biggest reaction with only one home grown player within its ranks. With six Gibraltar internationals on the bench Europa, along with the other local clubs in European competitions this summer have raised much criticism over their lack of use of local players.
With St Joseph also having used no local players in their first eleven and Lincoln only using two, the total number of local players from the first 33 in the line-ups totalled just three. Something which was met with some concern by GFA officials who quietly indicated their disappointment in the background.
Among the critics was Terence Jolley, former youth national coach whose son also plays for Europa. With both Tjay De Barr and Ethan Jolley among those on the bench Mr Jolley posted “this is what makes me want to give up in local football. Good enough to get us to the CL or EL but not good enough to play well done.”
Unlike domestic league football there are no restrictions on the use of homegrown players in European club competitions allowing clubs to make their own decisions on what they feel are the best suited players. Some observers also pointing out that clubs decided on what they believed would provide them success even if this meant not meeting local fans wishes.
Another team that opted to leave local players on the bench was St Joseph’s who faced a tough opponent in Prishtina.
St Joseph’s found themselves with backs to the wall during most of the match but managed one of the surprise results for local clubs.
With Prishtina favoured to win their match in Kosovo it was St Joseph’s that will play the return match at home with an advantage after squeezing out a 1-1 draw.
The blues found themselves bombarded from the very first kick of the match. Within the first nine minutes Prishtina had missed four times to hit the target.
Holding on tight at the back St Joseph’s found themselves going behind when Prishtina forced a penalty.
Already St Joseph had survived the woodwork and some nine shots at goal. However, the penalty was to prove a blow, but not for long.
Prishtina went ahead on minute 28 only to find themselves losing their lead as St Joseph’s pulled one back to equalise.
St Joseph’s had only three shots at goal during the 96 minutes of play. Somehow, they managed to absorb the pressure and forced an equaliser which now leaves them with a chance even club officials had not believed possible prior to the match.
St Joseph’s who play on Tuesday early evening at the Victoria Stadium will be looking to at least finish with a scoreless draw which would be enough to take them through.
Their reward if they were to succeed would be a first round Europa League against Scottish top side Rangers.