Gibraltar comes away with scoreless draw from trip to Andorra
Gibraltar came away with a scoreless draw against Andorra this Monday evening just three days after facing a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Slovenia.
In what was a challenge for the national squad facing two international friendlies in the space of just four days. A challenge which put to the test the ability of players to overcome the physical strains on their bodies after facing Slovenia, whilst also having to break away from the mental impact of having faced a big defeat.
The scoreless draw against Andorra whilst providing a positive result still left many questions on whether Gibraltar can pull themselves away from their present FIFA ranking positions against sides many believed Gibraltar should be able to beat.
A defensive looking line-up at the start of the match left few attacking options for Gibraltar, although it was Gibraltar who provided the best chances for a goal during the whole of the ninety minutes.
Gibraltar’s defensive formation, along with its well drilled roles to close spaces as a unit proved to be an effective way of stopping Andorra with the host reduced to just a handful of long distant shots at goal that did not trouble goalkeeper Dale Coeling.
Although Gibraltar did not have the bulk of possession it was the visitors who had the first opportunity at goal with Tjay De Barr feeding a testing ball into the path of Ronan whose attempt at goal saw the ball whisk just inches past the far post.
Andorra had the main possession as Gibraltar sat comfortably back and maintained their defensive formation taking any opportunities to go forward.
Tjay De Barr was to become the target of many a foul as Andorra ensured he was given as little space as possible.
Although the match against Slovenia saw early changes, the presence of Kenneth Chipolina within the starting eleven was to prove this time to be of a shrewd of tactical benefit for Gibraltar with his long throw-ins putting Andorra’s defence under constant pressure when Gibraltar had the opportunities. His long throw-ins acting very much like corner kicks which forced Andorra to defend their goalmouth.
The first half saw play centre mainly around the middle third of the pitch with few real chances at goal and a bagful of fouls.
Gibraltar entered the second half with some of the best chances to have gone away with a goal. For the first five minutes of the half Andorra’s defence had to defend against a stream of corners, long throw-ins and constant pressure which forced their keeper to intervene several times with timely clearances immediately under his crossbar.
The clearest chance came when Torrilla was to see how his diverted ball to goal was met by a one hand diving save on the line for a corner as the ball looked as having beaten the Andorra keeper. The save that ended in a corner brought another clearance on the line as Gibraltar pounded Andorra back into their goal mouth, only losing the momentum after a clumsy foul in the penalty area.
Losing possession Gibraltar seemed to settle back into a defensive posture allowing Andorra to take possession. The hosts short passing possession, however, had little impact with Gibraltar keeping them away from posing any real threat.
Even having brought on a number of offensive options in their substitutions Andorra did not pose much of a threat to Coeling’s goal.
There will, however, be some disappointment among some Gibraltar fans with Julio Ribas opting to maintain his formation throughout the match and not adding an additional attacker in the final minutes when Reece Styche came on. Instead, having pulled TJay De Barr into a midfield role he was to replace him with Ethan Santos when De Barr picked up an injury.
The scoreless draw will, nevertheless, be seen as a positive result for Gibraltar although it will do little to remove the question all fans ask themselves on whether Gibraltar is capable of jumping away, at least in people minds, from the image of being one of the lower tiers of European football.
Ranked 158th against Gibraltar’s 195th ranking, the scoreless result will be seem with greater optimism for the visitors than the hosts whose faces of disappointment were visible as the final whistle blew.
Gibraltar’s national squad next play in September when they face Turkey in a qualifier group match at the newly resurfaced Victoria Stadium.