Subs the key as Turkey battle to beat Gib

Turkey manager Senol Gunes had to turn to his bench in order to eventually break down Gibraltar in their 3-0 victory at the Victoria Stadium last night.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

In front of a not full ground (the £25 price tag, with no concessions for juniors or seniors may have put off families especially), Gibraltar made two changes from the defeat against Latvia, with Aymen Mouelhi and Anthony Hernandez coming in for Jamie Bosio and the suspended Louie Annesley. Turkey opted for a 4-4-2, but with Burak Yilmaz suspended, they went with the combination of Feyenoord’s Orkun Kokcu and Galatasaray striker Muhammed Akturkoglu up top.

Turkey appeared to be getting off to the perfect start when they won a penalty in the opening minute of the game, but Gib keeper Dayle Coleing had other ideas, diving low to his right to stop Enes Unal’s spot-kick and keeping the scores goalless. Turkey were having the more of the chances in the first half, but could find no way past Gib, who were not helped by Ethan Britto coming off after half an hour. Tjay De Barr, who threatened all game, picked up a yellow in the first half and will now miss Tuesday’s trip to Norway as a result of suspension.

Into the second half, and Gunes made a triple-sub at the break, bringing on Kenan Karaman, Halil Dervisoglu and Hakan Calhanoglu, and all three would go on to make big impacts, each getting on the scoresheet. They were somewhat fortunate not to go behind though, as De Barr saw an effort from outside the box tipped onto the post by Ugurcan Cakir early in the half – that would be as close as Gib got to taking the lead though, as Calhanoglu set up Dervisoglu to open the scoring for the visitors.

10 minutes later, and Calhanoglu himself would get on the scoresheet with an effort from outside the box, but Gib came close to pulling one back as Roy Chipolina saw his header from a corner saved by Cakir. Turkey would wrap up all three points in the 82nd minute though, as the third of the subs, Karaman, got himself a goal to ensure Turkey remained top of the group.

There were definitely improvements in Gibraltar’s performance from the defeat against Latvia, even if Julio Ribas’ failure to use all five of his subs to keep the starting players fresher ahead of the trip to Norway next week was of some concern. Gib managed to fashion more chances than in any of their previous qualifiers and De Barr, who gave Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu issues during the match, was unlucky not to make it five goals in as many games for clubs (Lincoln and Wycombe) and country. The challenge now is to keep up that attitude to the game in future matches – with Montenegro and Latvia to visit the Victoria Stadium later this year, there are chances for Gib to pick up points if they are brave enough.