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Gibraltar’s European sides get season underway

Gibraltar’s four European representatives played their first leg matches this week, with three of them drawing their opening matches in European competition this season.

Photo © David Roberts

After the introduction of the Europa Conference League, Gibraltar had four teams qualify for Europe for the first time – which meant Mons Calpe were making their European bow in the first match of the week involving a local team.

Cesar Vega’s team hosted Andorran’s Santa Coloma at the Victoria Stadium on Tuesday evening. Despite having the better of the first half, they went in behind at the break to a goal by Xavier Puerto. The second half was a complete role reversal – Santa Coloma had numerous opportunities and were denied by Mons keeper Christian Fraiz, before Mons striker Aritz Hernandez, who signed in the summer from Lynx, scored from close range to secure a draw.

Attention then turned to the Champions League, where Lincoln travelled to Luxembourg to face Fola Esch. Mick McElwee’s side appeared to be heading to a win after goals from Fernando Carralero and Ethan Britto gave Lincoln a two-goal lead, but Fola Esch scored twice in little over a minute through Stefano Bensi and Denis Ahmetxheka to secure a 2-2 draw – Lincoln host Fola Esch on Tuesday at 6pm, and ticket information should be released imminently.

Last night, St Joseph’s travelled to Tallinn, which at 3,373km was the longest journey made by any team in the Conference League this week, to face Levadia, but they had a nightmare start going 2-0 down in 10 minutes courtesy of goals from Zakaria Beglarishvili and Ernest Agyiri. Saints tried to battle back but conceded a third from the spot as Marko Putincanin appeared to put the tie beyond doubt. However, moments later Cristian Pecci grabbed a consolation which in the grand scheme of things gives Saints a chance, albeit low, of qualifying when they play at the Victoria Stadium next week.

The final game of the week saw Europa host Lithuanian side Kauno Zalgiris. Despite their visitors being 19 games into their league season, they came in on the back of four games without a win, and Europa dictated play for almost the entire game. However, they lacked the finishing touch on a number of occasions and in the end had to settle for a goalless draw.

It is also worth noting ahead of next week that the away goal rule was abolished for this season – so while Mons Calpe currently benefit from that rule, Lincoln and St Joseph’s goals away from home will not play a part if the scores end up tied after the second leg.

Next week’s fixtures:

Tuesday 18:00 – Lincoln v Fola Esch (Victoria Stadium)

Thursday 18:00 – Kauno Zalgiris v Europa (Suduva Stadium)

Thursday 18:30 – St Joseph’s v Levadia Tallinn (Victoria Stadium)

Thursday 18:30 – Santa Coloma v Mons Calpe (Estadi Nacional)

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Mons Calpe qualify for Europa Conference League

After last night’s Rock Cup Final result, Mons Calpe confirmed their place in Europe for the first time, subject to the club having been granted their UEFA License.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

Mons Calpe watched on with interest as Lincoln beat Glacis 2-0 last night – had Glacis won they would have taken the final European spot, however, with Lincoln eventually winning the cup, the final European spot, as in previous seasons, went back to the league, meaning Mons, who finished in 4th, six points above Lynx, were the beneficiaries of Gibraltar’s first season where they claimed four European spots.

They will therefore join both Europa and St Joseph’s in the first qualifying round of the newly-formed Europa Conference League, subject to receiving their UEFA License. This has so far not been an issue for either Lincoln, Europa or St Joseph’s, but for Mons Calpe this may potentially prove to be a stumbling block.

The club are alleged to have unpaid debts to settle with former players and staff, with the teams then players staging a sit-down protest in 2019 – two players subsequently went to FIFA with their claims; now-Glacis player Miguel Londero, and Nicolas Trecco, who is currently playing in Argentina. Mons were ordered to pay Trecco, but in the case of Londero the case appeared to be recommended to back to the Gibraltar court of law.

If those two issues, and any other alleged issues have in fact been settled, then it would be expected that Mons receive their UEFA License and participate in Europe for the first time. However, should they fail the license, the last European spot is likely to then drop down to the next eligible league team (as is the case in other UEFA countries normally) – in this case that would be Lynx in 5th place who would benefit, presuming they too have a UEFA License.

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Mons stun Saints with late goals

Three goals in the final five minutes or so of the game saw Mons Calpe beat St Joseph’s 4-1, and move themselves closer to securing 4th place as a result.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

St Joseph’s made four changes from the side that beat Lynx 5-0 – Kenneth Chipolina, Sykes Garro, Nano and Aymen Mouelhi all were handed starts, while for Mons, their only change from the side that lost 2-0 to Europa saw Diego Caballero replace Renan Bernardes.

The game, in truth, felt more like a basketball match for the vast majority of it, with both sides intent on attacking at every opportunity and throwing complete caution to the wind – after both sides had created chances, it was Mons who took the lead when Elyakim Musoni got on the end of a good cross to give his side an early lead.

St Joseph’s had more concerns soon after, when Jamie Robba required physio treatment, but the Saints keeper opted to continue, and soon after his defensive skills were being tested when he made a good tackle some 30 yards from his own goal to stop Diego Diaz attacking his goal. There was a disappointing moment of officiating, when Saints captain Boro, who was clearly being held back when through on goal, was not awarded a foul of any sort as he chose to stay on his feet instead of throw himself to ground – an example of why players do go down so easily in modern football, as it sometimes seems the only way to get the officials to notice you have been fouled.

Mons should have made it 2-0 soon after, but Nathan Santos, who was lively all game without being rewarded for it, first saw his one-on-one effort saved by Robba, then saw his header go wide off the post. A few minutes later, Musoni went in on goal and lobbed an effort well over, and you began to wonder if Mons would start to regret not going further ahead.

St Joseph’s would go on an equalise in the 57th minute, when Stefan Borghi’s powerful cross was turned in by Domingo Ferrer – things appeared to then get better as they were awarded a penalty, and a chance to go ahead. However, Juanfri’s penalty hit the post and the chance went begging.

From that point, the game pretty much opened up to a floodgate of chances – Mons thought they had scored when Santos’ header had hit the side-netting, before Diaz failed to cut the ball back to Musoni for a tap-in. With 5 minutes to go, Ethan Santos made a crucial block in his own six yard box to deny Saints a second goal – it would prove even more crucial than first thought as Mons went on to score three goals in the final stages of the game.

Mons first caught Saints on the counter, and Diaz slotted in to make it 2-1, before Ayoub El Hmidi took his time and calmly extended his sides lead a minute later. Saints heads had clearly gone by this point, and Francisco Moreno had the easy task of making it 4-0 on the 93rd minute. Tensions boiled over after the 4th goal, but the officials handled it sensibly given the game was essentially over at this point.

For Mons, that win currently puts them 6 points clear of Lynx, who play today against Lions, and it means Lynx, as well as having to win today, will need to get a result vs one of the ‘big 3’ to have a chance at finishing 4th, given Mons already have the head-to-head record over them. For Saints, they blew the chance to move level on points at the top with Lincoln and Europa – they must now win every game in order to win the title, including most likely a two-goal victory or greater against Lincoln to secure the head-to-head lead over them if needed.

Lineups:

St Joseph’s: Robba; Chipolina, Garro (Pons, 45), Boro (Ferrer, 52), Nano, Pecci, Borghi, Moulds, Juanfri, Villar (Juanma, 45), Mouelhi

Unused Subs: Mateo, Serra, Rojas, Carrasco

Mons Calpe: Fraiz; E. Santos, Rodriguez, El Hmidi, Musoni (Morenjo, 76), Caballero, N. Santos (El Andaloussi, 81), Ojeda, Ballaster, Diaz, Mallemaci (Dos Santos, 63)

Unused Subs: Montano, Bernardes, El Andaloussi, Boulaich

Yellow Cards: Nano, Pecci, Villar; Fraiz, Musoni, N. Santos, Ojeda, Diaz, Boulaich

Red Cards: None

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Europa maintain top spot in Mons victory

First half goals from Adrian Gallardo and Juampe ensured Europa kept top spot in a 2-0 victory over Mons Calpe last night.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa, who had played on Friday night vs Lions, made just the one change from that game – Ethan Jolley came in for Dylan Borge, while Mons, who hadn’t played last weekend as their match vs Lynx was moved forward, made a handful of changes from their 5-1 loss to Lincoln on the 17th – Ashley Rodriguez, Renan Bernardes and Elyakim Musoni came in for Kevagn Ronco, the suspended Andre Dos Santos, and Diego Caballero.

Europa got off to a very quick start, scoring inside the opening two minutes as Ibrahim Ayew’s cross was headed in by Adrian Gallardo, who after just 64 seconds found himself free in the box as Mons defence was caught out cold. Gallardo could have had a second after 10 minutes, but his shot was tipped over by Christian Fraiz in the Mons goal, before Christian Lopez was called into action for Europa to save Diego Diaz’ lobbed effort on goal. Mons had a goal disallowed on 19 minutes, with Musoni, who had scored, presumably being adjudged to have fouled Ethan Jolley just before firing into the corner.

That would be the closest Mons came to scoring in the first half, as Europa took heed of the warning and promptly pushed on to try and double their lead. Fraiz was kept busy, saving an effort from Juampe, while the Europa captain twice set up Sergio Sanchez from corners, only to see the Europa defender head wide. It would be Juampe, however, who doubled Europa’s lead, curling an effort in off the post from just outside the box to put his side in a better position going into the break,

The second half was a less eventful affair, with Europa perhaps mindful of their massive match vs Lincoln this weekend, using the opportunity to sub off players after the hour mark and give them a bit of a rest before Saturday’s potential title-decider. Musoni, who had earlier had a goal ruled offside, was still proving to be a potential outlet for his side, shooting just wide from outside the box. Deep into injury time, after Europa keeper Lopez had collided with Mark Ballester and Diaz at a free kick, and was down with a potential head injury, Sergio Sanchez had to head off the line to ensure his keeper kept a clean sheet – Europa were understandably angry at the failure to stop play when a player from both sides were down injured after a clash in the box, but luckily for all involved there appeared to be no serious injury, and the game was blown for full time soon after.

Europa’s win ensured they go into the big game on Saturday at 18:15 knowing they’ll be at least 1 point ahead of Lincoln, depending on their result vs Lions tonight, while Mons remain 4th and will be hoping St Joseph’s beat Lynx in the earlier of today’s games.

Lineups:

Europa: Lopez; Jolley, Breed (Olmo, 62), Ayew (Juanlu, 75), Juampe, Gallardo (Borge, 62), Yome (Clinton, 75), Sanchez, Badr, Carrascal, Rosa (Alvarez, 64)

Unused Subs: Romero, Gibson

Mons Calpe: Fraiz; E. Santos, Rodriguez, Bernardes (Moreno, 78), El Hmidi (N. El Andaloussi, 68), Musoni, N. Santos, Ojeda, Ballester, Diaz, Mallemaci

Unused Subs: Montano, Pinero, De Los Santos, Almeida, M. El Andaloussi

Yellow Cards: Ayew, Badr; E. Santos, Musoni, Diaz

Red Cards: None

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Lincoln in 4-goal victory over Mons

Lincoln Red Imps made it six league wins on the spin as they beat Mons Calpe 5-1 last night in the final part of Saturday’s triple-header

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

Lee Casciaro returned to the Lincoln starting eleven from the last league game, replacing Tjay De Barr in the only Lincoln change, while for Mons, Nathan Santos and Diego Diaz replaced Ashley Rodriguez and Elyakim Musoni from their 4-0 win vs Lions in the league.

With Europa and St Joseph’s having won earlier in the day, Lincoln were expected to make a mark on this match as they looked to take their place on top of the league back, and they did just that, taking a two-goal lead in the opening half hour thanks to the combination of Kike and Lee Casciaro. Casciaro squared the ball to Kike for the opener, before the veteran Gibraltarian attacker made it 2-0 when he scored from the rebound of his Spanish team-mate’s earlier shot.

The second half went in much the same pattern as the first, with Lincoln suffocating Mons out of the game with three further goals. Luke Wall, who scored his first for the club in the cup win vs Lynx in midweek, made it two in as many games when he scored to make it 3-0. Andre Dos Santos was then sent off for Mons against his former club for denying Lincoln a clear goalscoring opportunity, and from the resulting free kick, Kian Ronan eventually scored to make it 4-0. Kike then got his second to make it 5-0, from the penalty spot, before Lincoln took their foot off the gas slightly and saw Ayoub El Hmidi grab a consolation for Mons, heading in from a corner.

The result did little to change the league table from before Saturday’s games – Lincoln remain two points clear of Europa at the top, while Mons are in 4th, three point ahead of Lynx in the battle for a potential final European spot.

Lineups:

Lincoln: Chino; Ronan (Moreno, 70), Wiseman, Lopes, Casciaro, Chipolina (Sergeant, 75), Toscano, Carralero (Britto, 70), Yahaya, Kike (Omoregie, 74), Wall (De Barr, 74)

Unused Subs: Henderson, Torrilla

Mons Calpe: Fraiz; Dos Santos, E. Santos, El Hmidi, Caballero, N. Santos, Ojeda, Ballester, Diaz (Musoni, 61), Ronco (De Los Santos, 53), Mallemaci (Bernardes, 74)

Unused Subs: Montano, Pinero, Boulaich, El Andaloussi

Yellow Cards: Yahaya; E. Santos, Caballero, Diaz

Red Cards: Dos Santos

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Diaz brace boosts Mons

Diego Diaz scored twice as Mons Calpe climbed above Lynx into fourth with a convincing 3-1 win yesterday.

Mons Calpe welcomed back Kevagn Ronco and Ethan Santos following their defeat to St Joseph’s while Lynx made only one change from the side which beat Lions with Antonio Gonzalez replacing Estiven Morente.

Brad Power and Aidan Serra had early chances for Lynx before Bradley Banda was called into action, saving from Maximiliano Mallemaci. Alberto Caravaca had a chance just before half-time but his curled effort went wide, meaning the score would remain 0-0 heading into the break.

Diego Diaz opened the scoring for Mons Calpe in the 55th minute after being set up by Maximiliano Mallemaci and they found themselves 2-0 up just eight minutes later when Ethan Santos’ long throw found its way to Mark Ballester on the edge of the box whose shot looped over Bradley Banda.

Lynx missed a glorious chance to pull a goal back in the 72nd minute but Aritz Hernandez headed wide from David Bauti’s free-kick. Mons Calpe would punish that miss by making it 3-0 in the 77th minute when Diaz got on the end of Andre Dos Santos’ cross to guide the ball past Banda.

First-half substitute Mario Ruesca would get a consolation goal for Lynx in the 89th minute with Mons running out 3-1 winners.


Lineups

Mons Calpe – Montano; Dos Santos, E.Santos, Rodriguez, El Hmidi (N.Santos 71), Caballero, Ojeda, Ballester, Diaz (Pinero 85), Ronco, Mallemaci (Musoni 77)

Unused subs: Fraiz, Bernardes, Moreno, De Los Santos

Lynx – Banda; Serra (Parkinson 68), Som (Ruesca 21), Power, Caravaca, Valdivia (Hernandez 53), Gonzalez (Santos 68), Onate, Valarino, Victory (Parody 53), Bautista

Unused subs: Avellano, Morente

Yellow cards: Caballero, Diaz; Bautista

Red cards: None

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Saints storm back to winning ways

St Joseph’s ended a run of two games without a victory in emphatic fashion, running out 4-0 winners over Mons Calpe.

Two straight defeats to Europa and Lincoln saw Saints drop into third and needed a win with the other two facing each other tonight. Lynx’s win over Lions meant Mons Calpe needed to match the result to keep the pressure on 4th place.

Ezequiel Rojas had St Joseph’s ahead after 16 minutes when the defender rose above his marker to head the ball past Fraiz from Nano’s corner. Juanfri nearly doubled his sides lead just seven minutes later but his effort struck the crossbar.

Juanfri did eventually get his goal when Nano’s shot was blocked and the Spanish striker was on hand to tap the ball in from close. The 31-year old got his brace in the 80th minute and Federico Villar added a fourth late on.


Lineups

Mons Calpe – Fraiz; Dos Santos, Rodriguez, El Hmidi, El Andaloussi, Caballero (Bernardes 77), Santos, Ojeda, Ballester, Diaz (Moreno 81), Mallemaci (Musoni 28)

Unused subs: Montano, De Los Santos, Boulaich, Ronco

St Joseph’s – Robba; Chipolina, Rojas, Garro (Pishu 45), Nano, Barnett (Moulds 73), Pecci (Villar 77), Borghi (Carrasco 62), Juanfri, Pons, Juanma

Unused subs: Hernandez, Boro, Cano

Yellow cards: El Hmidi; Chipolina

Red cards: None

.

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Diego Diaz nets brace as Mons run riot

Diego Diaz scored a first-half brace as Mons made it three wins on the bounce with a 5-0 victory over Manchester 62.

Cesar Vegas’ men came into the game on the back of four games undefeated and raced into a three-goal lead inside 35 minutes.

First Diaz volleyed home a Nathan Santos cross after 14 minutes before Mark Ballester fired in a loose ball from inside the box after 22 minutes when Nathan Santos’ cross was only partially cleared by the Manchester defence.

Mons would find themselves with 10 men after 26 minutes when Ethan Santos needlessly kicked the ball away with his side holding a two-goal lead and already on a yellow, Tim Reoch would show the 22-year old a red card.

Despite a man down, a third goal would arise in the 35th minute when Diego Diaz got his second of the night from the penalty spot after Ryan Casciaro’s foul.

Mons made it 4-0 on the hour mark when Nathan Santos’ cross found Ayoub El Hmidi who outmuscled Carl Thomas in the box and slotted the ball past Ayden Vinales.

Naoufal El Andaloussi completed the rout five minutes from time tapping in a rebound to make it four games unbeaten in all competitions since their defeat to Lincoln last November.


Lineups

Mons Calpe – Fraiz, Dos Santos, E.Santos, Rodriguez, El Hmidi, Nusoni (N.El Andaloussi 30), Caballero (Bernardes 79), N.Santos (M.El Andaloussi 79), Ojeda, Ballester, Diaz (Mallemaci 69)

Unused subs: Montano, Moreno, De Los Santos

Manchester 62 – Vinales; Sardena (Thomas 50), Pereira (Garcia 50), Negrette (Moir 50), Ballantine, Sanchez, De Los Santos, Guiling, Edzes, Casciaro, Clenahan

Unused subs: Borge, Montovio, McElwee, McCarthy

Yellow cards: E.Santos; Edzes

Red cards: E.Santos

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Brad Power own goal hands Mons victory

Mons Calpe secured a top-six finish after Brad Power’s spectacular first-half own goal sealed a 1-0 win over Lynx.

Mons, now level on points with Lynx in fourth, took an 33rd-minute lead when defender Brad Power massively over-hit a back-pass and the ball flew past a helpless Bradley Banda.

Seven minutes later Christian Fraiz denied Lynx forward Aritz Hernandez with a neat stop. Mons went into the break with a 1-0 lead.

Mons Calpe had a goal disallowed for offside near the end of the game but Cesar Vegas’ men were able to hold onto the lead and qualify in the top-six alongside Lions, Lynx, Lincoln, St Joseph’s and Europa.

Lynx take on Lions next Wednesday, a defeat and Mons Calpe beat Manchester 62 would leave them in 4th at the end of round one.


Lineups

Lynx – Banda; Som, Power, Caravaca, Hernandez, Parody (Serra 61), Gonzalez (Santos 61), Onate, Chuky (Valarino 46), Victory, Bauti (Valdivia 72)

Unused subs: Avellano, Ruesca, Morente

Mons Calpe – Fraiz; Dos Santos, E.Santos, Rodriguez, Bernardes (Caballero 53), El Hmidi (N.Santos 77), Ojeda, Ballester, Diaz, Ronco, Mallemaci (Musoni 53)

Unused subs: Montano, Moreno, El Andaloussi, De Los Santos

Yellow cards: Rodriguez, Mallemaci

Red cards: None

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Mons return to winning ways to boost top-six hopes

Mons Calpe returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion, boosting their top-six hopes with a 4-1 victory against Brunos Magpies last night.

Cesar Vegas’ side came into the game on the back of a draw against Lions last December, but there was no sign of rust as Diego Diaz put Mons ahead after seven minutes.

Magpies were dealt a heavy blow at half-time when Tyson Ruiz was given a second yellow after the whistle, leaving his team with ten men and trailing 1-0.

Three minutes into his debut and debutant Elyakim Musoni set up Diaz to make it 2-0 for Mons Calpe then seven minutes later, Ayoub El Hmidi would make it 3-0.

Rubo instantly pulled a goal back for Magpies but the game was put to bed in the 85th minute when Musoni scored from outside the box to make it 4-1.


Lineups

Mons Calpe: Fraiz; Dos Santos, E.Santos, Bernardes, El Hmidi (N.Santos 88). N.El Andaloussi (Rodriguez 66), Ojeda, Ballester, Diaz, Ronco, Mallemaci (Musoni 66)

Unused subs: Montano, Moreno, Caballero, M. El Andaloussi

Brunos Magpies: Perez; Garcia, Diaz, Zuniga (Morgan 69), Cataruozzolo (Parker 46), Assumpcao (Gallardo 35 – Fernandez 80), Vinet, Lopez (Jones 70), Casares, Ruiz, Rubo

Unused subs: Zamora, Coombes

Yellow cards: Dos Santos, Bernardes, El Hmidi, Diaz, Ronco, Mallemaci; Diaz, Cataruozzolo, Casares, Ruiz

Red cards: Ruiz