St Joseph grab three comfortable points against Lions
Lions Gibraltar 1 - 5 St Joseph
Last week marked the commencement of the season for both St Joseph and Lions, each experiencing notably different beginnings. St Joseph commenced their campaign with a comfortable triumph over a struggling Europa side, which has encountered severe difficulties this season. Securing the three points carried significant weight for St Joseph, traditionally serving as an indicator of their position before the league's division into the final six teams. However, with Europa's current downturn, these three points did not signify the robust title challenge they had hoped for.
Conversely, Lions endured a challenging start to their league journey, suffering a 4-1 defeat against Lynx after being reduced to ten players. This result did not inspire confidence in their pursuit of a top-six finish.
The clash between St Joseph and Lions on Saturday afternoon offered a glimpse of what both teams could offer. Lions made an early surprise by seizing a 1-0 lead within the opening minutes, following an initial onslaught from St Joseph. A well-executed curling shot took the St Joseph keeper by surprise, finding its way into the net.
St Joseph promptly responded, exerting pressure on Lions. In the seventh minute, a header tested the Lions' goalkeeper, who deflected the ball out for a corner. St Joseph, however, failed to capitalize on this opportunity.
As Lions, accustomed to deep defending, settled into their game, they resisted St Joseph's attempts to push them forward. St Joseph's efforts to stretch Lions by enticing them to advance their lines went unanswered by the orange-clad Lions, who were content with their early lead and aimed to frustrate their blue-clad opponents.
Nonetheless, the defensive posture adopted by Lions carried its own risks, which they eventually paid for. In the fourteenth minute, Lions conceded a penalty while defending deep inside their penalty area. Rey seized this opportunity to equalize, altering the dynamics of the match.
Now devoid of their lead, Lions were compelled to advance their lines, inadvertently affording St Joseph additional space. The blue-clad team efficiently exploited this space to heighten the pressure on Lions, who found themselves pinned back and struggling to cross the halfway line.
Lions attempted to counterattack on swift breaks but faced limited options. St Joseph maintained possession dominance, keeping Lions occupied while they sought their second goal. The oranges demonstrated their offensive prowess on the field.
Lions had to tread carefully in defense on the fortieth minute when Pablo maneuvered past players inside the penalty area. Keen to avoid a repeat of St Joseph's equalizer, Lions defenders swarmed around the player without resorting to a lunging challenge. The ball was eventually cleared through a block, mere meters from the goal.
A mere two minutes later, a weaving move down the right flank culminated in a floated ball into the goalmouth. The keeper blocked the initial header, but Borge capitalized on the rebound, tapping it over the keeper for the third goal. Lions were now staring at another significant defeat.
Despite facing a two-goal deficit, Lions did not adopt a defensive stance as the second half commenced; instead, they pressed St Joseph. Initially, they found it challenging to penetrate St Joseph's penalty area, with the blue-clad team proving more adept at transitioning from defense to attack and creating threatening moments.
As the second half unfolded, St Joseph regained control of possession, pushing Lions deep into their own half. Lions' attempts to venture forward were consistently thwarted at the halfway line, demonstrating St Joseph's superiority within the first fifteen minutes of the second half. St Joseph appeared comfortable, refraining from overexerting themselves to maintain possession. Their defensive positions effectively covered the backline from an advanced stance against a solitary forward, allowing them to swiftly regain possession and initiate their short passing game.
With the match falling into a predictable rhythm, goal-scoring opportunities were limited, mainly concentrated within the middle third of the pitch. It wasn't until the 58th minute that a high, lofted free-kick posed a surprising challenge for the St Joseph keeper, who opted to palm it out for a corner instead of making a routine catch. The ensuing Lions corner raised some concerns as it sailed into the goalmouth but was ultimately cleared by the keeper.
St Joseph responded with a swift counterattack, forcing the Lions keeper to make a decisive block. This sequence prompted Lions to mount their own offensive, resulting in a shot that narrowly missed the target.
The match resumed its predictable flow, with St Joseph dominating possession and pushing Lions deeper into their half. Lions struggled to devise effective strategies for breaching the St Joseph defense, while the blue-clad team appeared content with their three-goal lead, without actively attempting to run down the clock.
It wasn't until the 75th minute that St Joseph, executing a rapid burst down the right flank, penetrated Lions' defense. Delgado Salvador displayed excellent control, scoring the fourth goal from a tight angle, with Lions' fate now sealed. St Joseph, aware of their impending victory, sought to further bolster their tally, securing another valuable three points.
They were to add a fifth goal in the final three minutes before the 90 minutes. The referee giving six minutes of injury time. Lions did not stop chasing the ball to try and grab at least another goal even though they risked conceding a sixth. A free kick in the last seconds of the match from Lions hitting the crossbar.