Gibraltar loses against Estonia but sets a new marker
Estonia 4(0)-(0)0 Gibraltar
Gibraltar entered their second FIFA World Cup European qualifier group match against Estonia with Jeff Wood continuing to trust in his younger players.
The inclusion of Jayce Mascarenhas- Olivero, Jamie Bosio and Anthony Bardon added a youthfulness to a squad that still included the likes of two Casciaro and Chipolina brothers, Garcia, Walker, Priestley and Perez
Though the initial line-up looked defensive in nature with six players known to be defence based, the presence of Priestley, Lee Casciaro and Walker gave an offensive option to the squad against a team they hoped to take points from. Even though Estonia had professionals playing in the premier league itself.
Walker, however did not warm well into the match until late in the first half. The first 30 minutes saw him take a back sit with Bardon, Bosio and Olivero taking more of the ball in the middle.
A nervy start saw a few scares, especially after Roy Chipolina had to clear off the line on the first five minutes after Perez fumbled an easy catch inside his penalty area. Gibraltar, played with a far wider, more offensive approach to their game play in the first half that kept Estonia from having too many chances in the first half. The home team were instead constantly frustrated as Gibraltar pressed high and had their own chances to go ahead.
The only time the ball hit the back of the net in the first half was a disallowed goal on the 12th minute for Gibraltar. Joseph Chipolina was judged to have been offside when he struck after a free kick had seen Estonia unable to clear a rebounded ball.
Gibraltar although more offensive than normal were vulnerable at the back. A couple of badly taken kicks by goalkeeper Perez placed the defence under unnecessary pressure which Gibraltar was lucky not to be punished for.
The first half ended 0-0, with Gibraltar completing an incredible 90 minutes of official competitive match football without conceding after Greece scored their fourth in the first half of Gibraltar's debut in the FiFa qualifiers.
It was the Fulham youngster Kait that broke the deadlock when with just one minute of the second half played he received a slipped pass through the middle to beat Perez. Estonia went 1-0 ahead, and were forced to defend for the next few minutes as they calmed the pace down again.
Gibraltar responded by keeping focused and kept their game plan taking the ball forward at every opportunity. Gibraltar attempted a shot within five minutes. Estonia responded with a quick break and a beautifully chipped ball over Perez on the 52nd minute by Vassiljev for the 2-0.
With a 2-0 cushion now in place Estonia lifted their game with more confidence in their approach for the next few minutes.
Wood took the option to substitute Bosio for Payas as Gibraltar tried to take the game forward. Within seconds Gibraltar struck to goal getting a corner. The floated corner saw an appeal for a penalty as Estonia cleared which was ignored by the referee.
Gibraltar seemed to have weathered the storm and looked to change the pace of the match. Closing down Estonia and trying to press on Estonia to get their own opportunities. On the 64th Priestley was substituted by Coombes who had played well against Greece alongside Lee Casciaro. Gibraltar's defence who had kept a solid line keeping their heads without the quantity in numbers seen in the past again conceded on the 70th minute. Roy Chipolina was unable to reach a looping floated corner. The ball fell at the feet of Kait who struck it past Perez for the 3-0, his second in the match. The badly defended corner, along with the keeper's hesitancy once again dealt a bad blow to Gibraltar's aspirations to gain points internationally.
Walker had his chance to put his name on the score sheet as he struck a free kick from 35 yards just going over the crossbar. Estonia responded with a quick break which saw Perez make a good save with his leg on a one on one.
Estonia scored their fourth on the 88th minute as they took control of possession. A good build up saw Mosnikov turn for a shot which just clipped Roy Chipolina's boot for a deflection past Perez. Gibraltar's vulnerability was once again exposed as they continue to make basic mistakes which are easily punished at international level. After conceding the first, Gibraltar once again crumbled to concede a handful of goals.
Gibraltar, although defeated had nevertheless set itself a new marker. It's 90 minutes without conceding a goal during international matches was a new level to equal in the future. Two consecutive halves without conceding contrasted with the 10 minute markers set by previous national coaches. Proving that with time Gibraltar continues to build on its strengths. Further reducing the prospect of the big heavy defeats in past qualifiers as they gain international experience. The steep learning curve slowly being climbed and slowly becoming less of an excuse to use for conceding goals.