Tears of joy ran down the players faces as Europa toppled Lincoln on a thrilling final day to become Champions of the Premier Division.
After a long and tiresome season, the race for the title took us to the very last day. Lincoln had already beat St Joseph’s the day before so all the pressure was on Europa to grind out a result against Glacis who have provided a stern test this season. After a quiet first half, the Greens ran out 2-0 winners.
Funnily enough it would be former Lincoln midfielder Liam Walker who would open the scoring, his fifteenth of the season, which would help his side go on and lift the Premier Shield and stop Lincoln’s dominance of the league. The last team to win the league, other than Lincoln was Gibraltar United in the 2001/02 season, who were lead by the likes of Damian Rocca, Dylan Glynn & Douglas Balloqui.
There have been many stand-out players from Europa’s triumphant season but two names who stand out are Alberto Merino & Enrique Gomez Bernal, better known as Kike. Merino, who is 42 years old, has been a consistent performer in defence and what he now lacks in pace, he makes up in terrific positioning which goes on to show that age is just a number.
Kike introduced himself on the Gibraltarian stage by scoring a brace in Europa’s win in the Pepe Reyes Cup and has now finished his first season in the Premier with 30 goals, one more than last season’s top scorer Pedro Carrion. His skill, pace and eye for goal has made him a delight to watch; now Europa will be hoping to keep hold of him for next season.
In a recent article with Imps captain Roy Chipolina we asked if there is now a “change of power” but we agree with his reply. It is still very early to be able to tell this; even though Europa have beat them three times from five this season, Lincoln’s victories have been comfortable and have seen them score more than three goals.
Lincoln should look at this defeat as a reality check – the fear factor of facing Lincoln is no longer there which teams have shown this season and teams are going out knowing they can get a result. Where they go from here is vital. After the Europa League, certain things need to be restructured if they want to win their title back.
Reported bonuses aside, this season has been memorable and the battle between Europa & Lincoln will go down as one of the best in recent years.
Photo by Core Photography.