As the preparation for the two-month extended winter break begins, we review how the Second Division season has panned out so far.
The Second Division starts today, and with it shaping up to be a very competitive league as teams push for the Premier Division, we take a look at the nine teams in the division for 2017/18.
We’ll look at the nine teams, how they’ve done over the summer and try to predict where they may finish this season.
Photo (C) Gibraltar Phoenix
Opening Second Division Fixtures
The fixture of the week could arguably be the very first one as last season’s runners up Brunos Magpies take on relegated Europa Point tonight.
Thursday sees Cannons and Hound Dogs face off before one of the overhauled teams, Leo, take on a Boca team who look much stronger on paper.
Finally, Olympique get their season underway on Sunday and with a team boasting Gibraltar internationals of recent seasons, they’ll be favourites against College 1975
Angels have a bye week due to the fact there’s nine teams in the league and wait until October 7th to start their season, against Magpies.
A nightmare season after being relegated from the Premier saw Angels come 8th last season, and losing manager Lewis Fraser will be a big issue for the team this time out. A year on, we see the team doing better but with so much competition around them in the league, a mid-table finish is likely – still an improvement on last season and they may be a nuisance to the teams above them.
Quitely, and without too much fanfare, Boca have improved their team a fair bit in the summer, with signings such as Liam Clarke and Estiven likely to prove key in their battle this season. They managed a third place finish last season and pushed Brunos for most of the season – we can see them repeating that feat this time out and who knows, maybe even sneak into second if they win key games against the likes of Magpies and Olympique. If their team is as good as their social media updates, they’ll be ones to watch this year.
The once-whipping boys of the league, Cannons have become a much better team in recent seasons. They’ve strengthened in the summer but they may find it half to replicate their 4th place finish of last season which was arguably a massive over-achievement for the team. 7th may be a little harsh and they could just as easily finish 5th if one or two games go their way over the course of the season against teams around them.
College 1975 (8th)
College improved last season after a largely shambolic start to their career as a club, however very little is known about what the club have done over the summer, and as such our prediction of 8th may turn out to look foolish after a couple of games. It doesn’t seem likely they’ll have strengthened enough compared to the other teams in the league.
Europa Point (6th)
It is far from easy for teams who have been relegated to go straight back up, and Europa Point enter the second division knowing they’ve a massive battle on their hand to do just that. Key for them is keeping the core of a team together for the whole season, but ultimately we feel they’ll come up short when it matters, especially as any key players in the first half of the season will likely leave as per the club’s ‘stepping stone’ policy.
Hound Dogs (9th)
While their commitment to develop local talent can only be applauded, it may not get them very far in the league this season, and unfortunately for Hound Dogs we feel they’ll come bottom in what will be a highly competitive league. Should some of their youngsters shine though, expect Hound Dogs to upset a few teams along the way especially later in the season.
They were arguably unlucky not to win their playoff match vs Manchester last season, but Magpies have to settle for another crack at going up. Another team doing a lot off the pitch to improve themselves, they have built a good team in the summer and it will be interesting to see who starts for them against Europa Point.
In David Wilson they have one of the best managers across both divisions, and much like Olympique they have a strong core of locals making up their team. Expect them to push Olympique all the way but just finish second – we do expect them to be playing Premier Division football next season whether they finish second or first.
Another team who had a major overhaul in the summer, Leo hired former Spain striker Catanha to manage them in the summer – his first job in management after retiring from football as a player. They’ve bought in a number of players too, largely from the Campo region, utilising the contacts their manager no doubt has.
Our prediction of fourth takes into account the team largely staying together all season – as is often the case teams can fall apart during the season and Leo must avoid that at all costs or else they’ll find themselves in bother pretty quickly.
Our favourites to win the league, Olympique have transformed spectacularly both on and off the pitch in the summer, with new investor Sunday Adeleye helping the team get in the likes of Jordan Perez and Robert Montovio who have both played for Gibraltar; Perez notably was Gibraltar’s first-choice keeper and has experience playing against teams such as Germany and Poland.
They also appointed Lewis Fraser as manager, and off the pitch they are arguably as good as any team at the moment in the division. Big things are expected of Olympique.
Bruno’s Magpies registered sixth win of the season as they came from a goal down to beat College1975 4-1.
Magpies started the first half the brightest side and looked likely to score but were lacking the cutting edge infront of goal. Magpies had the ball in the back of the net midway through the half but Sam Whelan’s goal was ruled offside. College came battling back, Soufian Hanafi’s long range shot went just wide.
Just before half-time College took a shock lead, Mohamed El Yettefti plays the ball to Soufian Hanafi, the striker skipped past his marker and smashed his shot past Fernando Diaz. Minutes later the referee blew for half-time with College 1975 leading 1-0.
Premier Division – 16:30 – Glacis Utd 0-2 Lynx FC The first half was dominated by Lynx but with Glacis defending deep they made life very hard for Lynx to create any chances. Neither keeper was called into action. The first half ended with the score at 0-0. The second half Lynx came out a much better side, and started to create Glacis a few problems with the pace down the wings. Glacis keeper Jamie Carlin made a few terrific saves and Glacis nearly opened the scoring but Fraiz made a great save to keep it out. With less than ten minutes remaining Lynx broke the deadlock, a cross found Egyptian winger Badr, the midfielder controlled and slotted his shot past Carlin. After going behind Glacis started to attack more leaving themselves open to the counter. Lynx made it 2-0 with minutes remaining, a counter saw Agustin Doxagarat run through on goal and slotted his shot past Carlin. Lynx were able to hold on secure the three points.
Second Division – 18:30 – College 1975 4-3 FC Boca Juniors College opened the scoring in the 5th minute, Aaron Aguilera skipped past three Boca defenders and smashed his shot into the bottom corner. Boca came battling back and nearly replied instantly but Andrew Olivero’s shot flew over the bar. Boca equalised in the 23rd minute, Sebastian Suarez picked out Felix Formica-Corsi with a superb pass, the striker controlled, turned and slotted his shot past Dominguez. Less than ten minutes later College were back infront, a counter attack saw Hamza Hanafi through on goal and coolly slotted his shot past Hermida. College made it 3-1 four minutes later, Soufian Hanafi drifts past the Boca defenders and smashes his shot into the top corner. Boca pulled one back in the 41st minute, Neil Robba’s cross found Formica-Corsi who scored with a tidy finish. Just before half-time Boca got themselves back on level terms, Boca were awarded a penalty, Formica-Corsi stepped up and slotted it away which also completed his hat-trick. The second half was evenly contested with both teams seeking the winner. Philip Hermida was the busiest of the two keepers, pulling off some great saves to keep the score at 3-3. With ten minutes remaining College got themselves a winner, Hamza Hanafi’s shot deflected off the Boca defender and into the back of the net. College were able to hold on and walk away with the three points.
Second Division – 20:30 – Leo FC 6-0 FC Hound Dogs Leo broke the deadlock in the 12th minute, Rafael Rodriguez through ball from Ivan Clavijo, the midfielder controlled and smashed his shot past Horner Garcia. Leo doubled their lead fifteen minutes later, Clavijo was fouled in the area by Jarvis Bautista. Justo Peralta stepped up and smashed his penalty into the top corner. Just before half-time Leo made it 3-0, Javier Moreno stepped up and curled his free-kick over the wall and past Horner Garcia. Leo continued to dominate the second half, Adan Guerrero capitalised on a Hound Dogs mistake, ran through on goal and slotted his shot into the bottom corner. Leo were awarded another penalty midway through the half as Alfonso Benitez was brought down in the area, Dylan Hayes’ stepped up and coolly slotted his penalty away. Just before full-time Leo made it 6-0, Alfonso Benitez’s low cross found Jose Antonio Vinas, the striker controlled and tucked his shot away.