St Joseph secure tie against Rangers by beating Prishtina
St Joseph made club history when they beat Prishtina 2-0 to secure themselves al place in the Europa League First qualifying round against Rangers. The jubilant scenes seen at the Victoria Stadium contrasted with those of Prishtina. Local fans unwilling to leave the stadium as they celebrated their club’s triumph.
This was a match in which the visitors Prishtina could ill afford to lose. A huge investment in reinforcing their squad during the pre campaign along with the prestigious opportunity to play against Steven Gerard’s Rangers in the next round was enough to add tensions to their strategy. First to arrive at Victoria Stadium with two hours to spare before the match the signs were clear.
St Joseph had surprised them with a 1-1 drawn in the first leg. St Joseph’s themselves did not wish to take too much hope from the initial result. Even officials from the club believed it would be a struggle to keep Prishtina from scoring during the course of the ninety minutes. A scoreless draw would’ve been enough to take them into the next round, unexpected even though this was. For St Joseph’s the fact they were in this round was already a big bonus a 230,00 euro bonus.
A half full west stand greeted both teams in what was a hot working day.
Prishtina showed from the first instance they were not used to the playing surface. It was St. Joseph who had the first attempt at goal in the first minute starting with greater confidence.
Prishtina gathered their confidence but were playing a risky game at first. Especially at the back where St Joseph put some pressure on the backs.
A corner flag stopped play after it flew away prompting officials to stop the match whilst it was found.
A floated free kick in the first ten minutes saw St. Joseph have a crack at goal.
Prishtina's first real threat at goal came on the 15th minute.
A break down the flank seeing a weak attempt at goal.
Prishtina gave away a cheap free kick handling the ball as St. Joseph's looked at breaking. The free kick coming to nothing but showed Prishtina's nerves at not having too many chances.
Prishtina started to show why they were the favorites finishing with a shot at goal in minute twenty from a simple play down the flank. St. Joseph's keeper saving.
A minute later the keeper was forced to intervene again. As the first half wore on when it seemed Prishtina was ready to step up the gear it was St Joseph who found themselves going forward. The visitors seeing few chances at goal after the first half hour of play.
Delgado's presence upfront forced a foul on him which led to a yellow card for Prishtina's captain. Delgado unlucky not to make contact with the ball from a floated free kick to the far post.
The Prishtina captain found himself at risk of expulsion as Delgado seemed to be getting the better of him, plus favoring the official's whistle.
With the break approaching Prishtina's frustrations was showing with several off the ball shoves and reaction to every call against them clearly illustrating this.
With just a few minutes to the end of the half the corner flag brought the match to a stop again. The corner flag flying away once again and replaced by a bib causing embarrassment to officials who are likely to be sanctioned for the stoppages.
The first half will have left Rangers observers even more baffled as St Josephlooked the better of the two.
Prishtina did not start second half well. A second yellow card saw a sending off within and within seconds the captain received a second yellow leading to another red as Prishtina were now playing with nine.
This was St. Joseph's chance to take the tie. The superiority in numbers showed as St. Joseph penned Prishtina back. In just three minutes three shots at goal.
St. Joseph started to create more opportunities.
Prishtina were valiantly holding on and still risking trying to go forward for a goal.
St. Joseph although they had numerical, superiority were failing to find
better opportunities to make their advantage work for them.
Prishtina started to tire, frustration crept in arguing with the officials. As they lost concentration a floated free kick to the far post was well met as St Joseph
went ahead. Prishtina earning themselves more booking.
It didn’t take long for St Joseph to lift the crowd again as they touched the ball between them to weave a path to goal again for a second.
Prishtina tried to create some chances but with just nine men on the pitch and two goals behind the odds were now stacked against them.
Controlling the pace St Joseph guided themselves through to the final fifteen minutes.
Holding on to their lead St Joseph produced not just Club history by making it past the preliminary round. They also set themselves up for what will probably be its most important match in its history since 1912, a first round qualifying tie against Rangers.
The match which is likely to be played next week in Gibraltar could see Gibraltar tested with a major Europa League match possibly taking place at the same time as the Island Games is taking place.
According to Gibraltar FA officials the match between St Joseph and Rangers should be played on Tuesday according to the UEFA draw. This would mean that Gibraltar will have to also deal with logistical headache of preparing for an influx in supporters from across the Costa Del Sol where Rangers have support and from Islanders themselves with several islands arriving in Gibraltar coming from north of the border.