Europa beats last year’s league champions in their first league encounter this season
Europa FC were to add a second victory against Lincoln Red Imps to their list this week after a convincing 4-1 win on Friday.
The first match of the season for both gave Europa the early success giving them the first three points from what will be crucial head-to-heads against last season’s league champions.
The match was to see both sides fielding four home grown players each. Something which sat uncomfortably even with some of their more reverent supporters. Both teams having national team players on the bench.
Both teams were to provide a higher tempo match than had been seen during the first week of National league matches, however, in the better part of the first half they cancelled each other out with few real chances at goal. The match not yet bringing out evidence that the two can run away with the league. Europa though starting as the stronger of the two displaying greater coherency and game play than Lincoln throughout better parts of the game once again.
Europa continued to trust in keeper Dayle Coeling whose commanding presence in the box bode well for him. They were also to put on the bench Jack Sergeant, a player only just released to play after departing from Lincoln Red Imps.
Last year’s league champions, Lincoln Red Imps surprisingly kept national team keeper Kyle Goldwin on the bench in favour of Soler. Instead, their fourth home grown player was to be Jamie Coombes. The young Gibraltar forward although playing well, was not to gel well with his front partner Ramon Rincon, at times filling the same space and not communicating well between each other. Rincon not providing that edge which Lincoln continue looking for up front. Lincoln, who have seen their main strike force of Kike and Lee Casciaro out due to injury still struggling to find the right combination up front.
For the second time in just a week Europa were to highlight their strength across the field. The more attacking of the two the greens seemed more settled in as a unit than Lincoln. This allowing them more possession of the game and dictating at times the pace.
Lincoln, however, changing their formation with Joseph Chipolina playing far more advanced had their opportunities to go forward. In the first ten minutes having had more goal opportunities than they had during the whole of the 90minutes during the Pepe Reyes Cup just five days earlier.
Lincoln were lucky not to go behind in the first half when Juampe cracked the ball against the post rattling the goal. The rebound, luckily for Soler, bouncing off his back and away from goal.
A goalless first half saw the mere less than 350 fans turning up to watch hoping for a goal as both teams cancelled each other out.
Europa was to oblige within four minutes from the start of the second half. A floated free kick into the goalmouth was not cleared by Lincoln’s defence with neither keeper or defenders taking command. This allowed Sanchez to climb at the back and slot in a soft glancing header for the first.
The introduction of Ayew lifted the tempo of the match. The player getting a yellow just minutes from stepping onto the field.
Liam Walker was to add a second on the six thirty minute curling a free kick over the wall from a free kick. The ball floating to the top corner away from Soler who had expected it coming to the other side.
Coeling was to be tested on several occasions but provided a good response as he kept Lincoln out. His defence also coming in well to support as Coombes continued to look for goal.
Europa added their third when on minute 71 Jayce Olivero surged forward down the left to put in what everyone expected to be a short pass to Juampe. The Spanish player instead jumped over the ball allowing it to roll to Liam Walker’s feet who soon played it to Juampe’s feet as he run further into the area before the latter drove the ball across goal for Arbelo, who had just come on, to divert it in for the third.
Lincoln made further changes. Gomes who had replaced Rincon was joined by Julian Del Rio who replaced Coombes.
However, it was Europa who struck again as Arbelo was left alone against Soler for an easy fourth goal.
Lincoln’s forwards were not to give up and it was 17 year old Julian Del Rio who carved a path into the penalty box to drive the ball across goal where Gomes stretched his long legs to push the ball in for a consolation goal.
Lincoln’s second defeat at the hands of Europa was to raise its own questions over whether they were ready for the challenge to try and oft the league trophy again this season. The club which last season saw changes to its head coach after a string of poor performances has as yet not tasted victory in a competitive match since finishing the league in May. Three defeats in European competitions have been followed by two further defeats in domestic competitions, losing both the Pepe Reyes Cup and their first match against Europa.
The latter, although with changes in their squad, have entered the domestic season taking what could be crucial points as they highlight their intent to bid for Champions League football.
The season, however, still just only in its first week, is likely to see many changes, with key players still to play for Lincoln and Europa. The squad sizes for both, as well as challenges of competing in a league where new faces are taking over from last year’s closest challengers is still to come. Europa’ s win will provide them with greater confidence as they start their campaign. Lincoln Red Imps will for their part be looking at making changes if they are not to lose further ground so early in the season.