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Casciaro: “Coming back home is always an easy decision to make”

FG caught up with Lincoln Red Imps attacker Kyle Casciaro about his return to Lincoln, his performances so far and more.

Photo © Neil Wilson/Lincoln Red Imps

Casciaro returned to Lincoln in the January transfer window after spending the first half of the season at St Joseph’s – how easy was it for him to return? “Home will always be home. Even if you try new challenges, coming back home (Lincoln) is always an easy decision to make.”

The 32-year-old has played in each of Lincoln’s last five games, scoring three times in the process – how well does Casciaro feel he has done since coming back? “I have been training hard since I came back to Lincoln. Full month of training without playing to get back fit. When I got my chance, I believe I have done very good for the team.”

Lincoln are in the semi-finals of the Gibtelecom Rock Cup, where they will face Casciaro’s old team St Joseph’s – does the attacker feel his side can win the cup? “We do have what it takes to win the cup. Now we are training and playing better as a team. We have had many changes during these months or year which doesn’t help but i feel now we have improved, and winning results show this.”

Finally, we asked Casciaro, who has 24 caps and one goal for Gib in the UEFA era, what his goals were in 2020: “I would like to be playing every game and help Lincoln as much as I can to win trophies. Gibraltar National squad, who knows in the near future if I carry on playing well”

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Bautista: “Last year had its ups and downs”

We spoke to 18-year old Luke Bautista about life at his new club Europa FC, his goals for 2020 and more.

Luke Bautista joined Europa from Mons Calpe last summer – we asked how he has found life at his new club, “Life at the new club has been difficult compared to what I was previously used to. Due to the logistics of training in another country together with my studies, it is very difficult to keep up the commitment. Also, competing for positions with top seasoned pros becomes nearly an impossible task to get into the first 11. On the plus side, professional set up with top quality players has taught me a lot in both on and off the pitch.”

Luke has made 3 appearances for Europa so far in the Gibraltar National League scoring 2 goals and has used this experience wisely as he currently leads the goalscoring charts in the Intermediate League with 14 goals – we asked if he feels his game has improved since joining the league leaders, “Yes of course, when you start training with a top team for a certain amount of time, you can only get better at what you do. Fitness, game understanding, awareness, and positioning. Also combining with better players makes life a bit easier on the pitch.”

The 18-year old had a busy end to 2019 with International football his main focus with the friendly tournament to Taiwan in late September and UEFA Euro U19 Championship Qualifiers in November – Luke reflected on the experience, “Due to the fact that I joined a top club, doors have been open to me for the National Team. Last year had its ups and downs as we competed in two International tournaments. In November, we were placed in a very difficult group with the likes of Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria. On the other hand, winning my first international game with the U19’s against Hong Kong was unforgettable.”

Lastly, we asked Luke about his goals for 2020 – “For 2020, I am looking to keep myself as sharp as possible and meet the goals set for myself and the team this season. I would also like to keep on representing my country when the time comes.”

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Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-final review

The Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-finals brought no surprises as Mons Calpe, St Joseph’s, Europa and Lincoln Red Imps progress into the next round.


Mons Calpe 3-1 Europa Point

Mons rushed into an early two-goal lead against Europa Point, with Diego Diaz and Andre Dos Santos scoring in the first ten minutes before things settled down a bit more.

Europa Point was out of the traps early in the second half and got a goal back thanks to Diego Vera’s header, but their chances of a comeback were ended after Samuel Vermeeren’s own goal, and captain Antony Moulds late red card.

Mons is the only Challenge Group team left in the cup, and while they are now rank outsiders, they will look to make the cup final for the second time in three years.


St Joseph’s 1-0 Brunos Magpies

If last weekend’s encounter was anything to go by, we expected a fiery contest and certainly got it. With the level of football being played below par, both teams didn’t hide away from any strong challenges.

Juanfri scored from the penalty spot to send 10-man Saints, who had Angel Guirado sent off, into the semi-final since 2017 but it was the altercation after the final whistle which was the main focal point.

An altercation between Kelvin Morgan and Juanma Gonzalez spurred on a brawl between both teams which took quite some time to calm down – a situation which you’d believe the Gibraltar FA will investigate further.


Europa 2-0 Lions

The Rock Cup holders went safely through to the semi-finals thanks to goals from Fernando Velasco and Manuel Dimas. The Green found it tough to break the well-organised Lions defence, an improvement from their 7-0 defeat last weekend.

Europa will need to be much better for Saturday when they come up against St Joseph’s – a doubt for that match could be Olmo who came off early with a suspected groin injury.


Lincoln 6-0 Boca

As expected, Lincoln beat Boca, by a score of 6-0 on Sunday afternoon. Boca made them work for it, but Pibe’s brace and Jamie Coombes first-half goal meant at the break the game was all but done.

Boca gave Lincoln a slight scare in winning a penalty, but they missed from 12 yards, and that led to Lincoln making sure there was to be no hint of a comeback – Oli, Gato, and Blas Alvarez all scored in the second half to put an end to a spirited Boca side, who before the game may have been fearing a bigger scoreline.

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Coleing and Escobar take FG Monthly awards in February

In a month which saw Europa move to within six points of winning the title, goalkeeper Dayle Coleing and manager Rafael Escobar are FG’s Player of the Month and Manager of the Month for February.

Photo © Vanessa Correa

FG Player of the Month – Dayle Coleing (Europa FC)

Goalkeepers tend to have to do a lot to be noticed in awards, especially compared to more attacking players, but this month, Coleing stepped up to the plate and kept four clean sheets in four league games. In fact, the goalkeeper has only conceded one goal in the whole of 2020 so far, which is made more impressive now the league is split and the opposition becomes harder.

His contributions haven’t just been in keeping goals out though – his distribution helped set up Europa’s game-clincher against Lincoln at the start of the month, while he generally has the ability to kick-start Europa attacks. Therefore, he edges out both his teammate Liam Walker, who scored five and assisted three in the month, and St Joseph’s striker Juanfri, who also scored five last month, including match-winning goals against Lynx and Magpies as Saints hold on to second.

  1. Dayle Coleing (Europa FC)
  2. Juanfri (St Joseph’s)
  3. Liam Walker (Europa FC)

FG Manager of the Month – Rafael Escobar (Europa FC)

February was a straight-up battle between Escobar and Saints manager Raul Procopio, with both winning all four of their matches in the month. However, with Europa scoring 19 and conceding zero, including 5-0 wins vs Lynx and Magpies (two sides Saints only beat by one goal), we’ve plumped with the Europa manager. Escobar has guided his side now to 14 consecutive victories, and Europa have not been beaten in all competitions (including the Europa League) since Lincoln beat them to win the title last season.

Elsewhere, both Mons Calpe and Europa Point lead the way in the Challenge Group, but this time we’ve opted for the Mons manager Luis Manuel Blanco, who has managed to maintain his sides six-point lead at the top with four games left, putting them in a commanding position to take the Challenge Group honours.

  1. Rafael Escobar (Europa FC)
  2. Raul Procopio (St Joseph’s)
  3. Luis Manuel Blanco (Mons Calpe SC)
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Llambias: “It has been a joy to play with each and every single player”

We caught up with Lincoln Red Imps U23 captain Ethan Thorne-Llambias to get his thoughts on securing the Intermediate league title earlier this week, his goals for the remainder of the year and more.

Lincoln clinched the title on Monday with a 2-1 win over Lions thanks to goals from Kyron McGrail and Ellis Wilson – we asked Ethan how it feels to be Champions, “It’s always an amazing feeling as we’ve worked hard to get to this moment. We have a great feeling of accomplishment and feel as if we have everything ahead of us and we can only get better.”

The Imps hold an impressive record in the Intermediate League winning 15 from 16 games and drawing 1 – Ethan reviewed his team’s season so far, “To be completely honest I would say that we have had a brilliant season, but obviously there is still more that me and the team can improve on as a whole. We have not always played our best football but we have always got the results. We can always learn and improve on our game as a team and as individuals, in saying this I believe that better things are to come.”

With an average age of just 16 years old from their win over Lions, Ethan is one of the more senior players and captain of the team – we asked him what he thinks of the young players coming up the ranks, “It has been a joy to play with each and every single player as they all offer something different. They are all hard-working and work for the team rather for themselves which is everything you need and want. They have impressed me and I think we could see a few players as individuals being outstanding if they carry on doing what they are doing now.”

With the first piece of silverware wrapped up in March – we asked Ethan what other goals he has set out for himself in 2020, “Firstly to improve as a player whether that be technically, physically, mentally, etc. Secondly I want to show to all my coaches what I can bring/offer and keep working hard to get opportunities and lastly to set an example for younger footballers in Gibraltar, showing them that if you work hard enough and really want something, there is nothing that can stop you from achieving it.”

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Liam Walker is FG Player of the Week

Europa captain Liam Walker is awarded FG Player of the Week as the attacking midfielder scored a second-half hat-trick in Europa’s 7-0 win over Lions.

Photo © V Correa Photography

Liam Walker – Europa FC (1st)

After finishing second in last week’s award, Walker ensured he took top spot this week scoring a hat-trick, and setting up two more as Europa found their form in the second half against a youthful Lions side.

Walker broke the 20-goal mark this season in getting his hat-trick, and is looking to catch up with St Joseph’s striker Juanfri in the top scorer charts – which would make him the first Gibraltarian since Lee Casciaro in 2015 to top the league’s scoring charts.

Juanfri – St Joseph’s (2nd)

Juanfri has constantly proven to be a match-winner for St Joseph’s, and when they found themselves 1-0 down to Magpies, and facing a threat to their second spot in the league, the Spanish striker stepped up once again, scoring twice to turn the game around and keep Saints five point gap from third.

The 30-year-old has proven to be one of the clubs smartest signings in recent years, and his goals will continue to win Saints games both domestically, and in European competition potentially.

Kike Gomez – Lincoln Red Imps (3rd)

Much like Juanfri, anyone who follows local football knows that Kike wins you games – he has done so for both Europa and Lincoln in the last few years. On Friday, his brace was instrumental as Lincoln broke down a stubborn Lynx side 3-1.

With the competition for attacking place at Lincoln being strong, Kike has firmly established himself as the main striker for the Red Imps, and at 25, the striker can only improve in the coming years.

Ethan Britto – Lincoln Red Imps (4th)

Britto has established himself into Lincoln’s first eleven this season, and his performances have also earned him a trial at Las Palmas this week. The teenager, who can operate at either left back or left wing, capped off a great Friday by opening the scoring, and generally being a threat on that wing.

Britto is showing good promise at this time, and having started Gibraltar’s last three internationals, he will also be looking to make a spot in Julio Ribas team his own for the upcoming friendlies this month, and going forward the Nations League in the autumn.

Ayoub El Hmidi – Mons Calpe (5th)

Ayoub scored two in Mons Calpe’s easy win over College last week to keep their six-point lead over Europa Point.

Despite his performances looking lethargic at times, the 19-year old has played a big part in his side’s unbeaten run in 2020.

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Del Rio and Britto to go on trial at UD Las Palmas

Lincoln Red Imps have confirmed this afternoon that teenage duo Julian Del Rio and Ethan Britto have been invited by Spanish side UD Las Palmas for a trial period this coming week.

Photo © Neil Wilson/Lincoln Red Imps

Las Palmas, who already have former Lincoln keeper Jaylan Hankins on their books, will take the pair on trial next week, with both players seemingly set to miss the Gibtelecom Rock Cup Quarter Final vs Boca as a result.

Del Rio, who won FG’s Player of the Month for the National League in January, has had a breakout season this year. After scoring a hat-trick vs Hong Kong U19’s back in September 2019, in an international friendly tournament, the 18-year-old then broke fully into the Lincoln first team set-up, scoring 6 goals in 13 first team appearances, including a hat-trick vs Lynx. The striker has played 501 minutes this season, a notable increase on the 2018-19 season when he managed to get 151 minutes under his belt, including scoring in a 2-0 win on his senior debut, against Gibraltar United back in April.

Meanwhile, Britto, who signed from Mons Calpe in the summer, is a mainstay of Julio Ribas national squad, earning eight full international caps at the age of 19. The teenager, who can play in either left-back or left-wing, scored an impressive free kick earlier in the season against Lynx and has featured 12 times in the league this season, racking up two goals and playing 964 minutes so far this season (only Chino Goldwin and Lee Casciaro have played more minutes of Lincoln’s HGP’s this season).

Should the two be successful in their trial, they would be expected to join Las Palmas subsidiary teams, where the aforementioned Hankins has alternated between the B and C teams this season – most recently being named on the bench for the B team against Real Madrid Castilla.

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FIFA rule in favour of Kike over Europa

On the 21st of February 2020, FIFA’s DRC has ruled in favour of the player Enrique ‘Kike’ Gomez Bernal over his ex-club Europa FC.

This case dates back to January 2019 when Kike signed for Lincoln Red Imps from Real Balompedica Linense. It’s alleged that Kike would sign for La Balona on the basis that if he was to return to Gibraltar then Europa would be his first choice.

After only 4 months with the Segunda B side, Spanish media were reporting that Kike was on his way back to Europa but Lincoln was also interested at the time.

Nearing the end of January, Lincoln dropped a huge bombshell when they announced the signing of Kike. The 25-year old would go on to score against Europa on three different occasions and end up lifting the league title with the Imps that season.

Kike, who was represented by Juan de Dios Crespo, currently has 13 goals in 12 games in all competitions for Lincoln who sit third in the Gibraltar National League Championship Group.

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Emmanuel Sunday is FG Player of the Week

Lincoln Red Imps striker Emmanuel Sunday is awarded FG Player of the Week as his six-minute hat-trick helped his side on their way to a 7-1 over Lions.

Emmanuel Sunday – Lincoln Red Imps (1st)

Imps came from a goal down to lead 2-1 at half-time against Lions last Friday. A hat-trick in six minutes from their Nigerian striker proved to be the help they needed to comfortably win.

Sunday has shown this season that he has plenty of goals in him and will be a great addition to keep a hold on for next season.

Liam Walker – Europa FC (2nd)

Walker’s excellently taken goal just before the break killed off any hope Magpies had of getting back into the game last weekend. The Gibraltar international also provided an assist in a 5-0 win over Magpies to keep his side five points clear at the top.

Dean Dillion – Europa Point (3rd)

Dillon was the difference for Europa Point against Manchester 62, scoring twice in a 3-1 win in blustery conditions.

The striker is forming a good partnership with Lukas Lindholm for his side and will be hoping to grow that further in the league and cup.

Domingo Ferrer Lopez – St Joseph’s (4th)

Saints’ win over Lynx was made a lot harder than it should have been. Domingo scored the opener in the first half and assisted Juanfri to make it 3-1 in the second half.

Domingo has been an excellent asset since joining the club in 2017 and has formed a partnership with Boro and Juanfri which Raul Procopio would like to keep for the foreseeable future.

German Cortes Narvaez – FC Boca Juniors (5th)

German took his tally to six goals with a hat-trick in Boca’s crazy 7-5 win over College 1975 in the Challenge Group. The Spaniard will be hoping to use this campaign to get back on track after his serious injury, and betting ban, and reach the potential he did with Gib Phoenix and the few months at Gibraltar United.

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Possible turning point for Magpies?

Magpies win over Lynx last weekend in the Gibtelecom Rock Cup was slender but showed glimpses of promise – could this be the turning point they need to push on and impress for the remainder of the season?

Jaron Vinet finished off an excellent through ball by Brian Perez in the second half to win 1-0 and secure a spot in the quarter-final. It would be hard to say that their win wasn’t deserved and at times, showed a performance to match the result.

After a hit-and-miss season which saw them win their opening three games of the Gibraltar National League, they then went on and lose eight of their next twelve games.

Within the space of four months, Magpies have seen two managers leave, as well as a whole bunch of players leave who realistically didn’t fit the bill of a team in the top six.

Magpies moved away from bringing in a whole host of foreign talent and went for the option of signing Gibraltarian players – a clever move when you remember that the HGP ruling rises to five next season.

There is exciting talent in this squad – Brian Perez showed last weekend that he still has that killer pass, youngster Jaron Vinet continues to improve and other players such as Tyson Ruiz and Shea Breakspear (amongst others) can only help the team get stronger for next season.

One player who has stood out this season has been Dan Bent – the English defender has played 12 out of Magpies’ 15 games this season and has played solidly when called upon – we look forward to seeing how this Magpies team takes shape in the coming months.