In a thrilling FA International Challenge Shield final, Gibraltar managed to beat Jersey 2-1, despite having two players sent off, raising their total red cards to a disappointing 3 players, and a manager, over the two games in the tournament. The crowd, considerably larger than any of the other games in the tournament, were treated to a game consisting of goals, red cards, and controversial refereeing decisions.
Gibraltar controlled the ball from the start, and they went ahead after 10 minutes, as Brian Perez finished off a good team move to put Gib ahead. This set the pattern for the first half, as Gib had almost complete control of the ball, but could not get another goal to further establish their lead; a combination of good goalkeeping and a few misses from a Gib team missing star striker Lee Casciaro.
Going into half time only 1-0 down, Jersey were by no means out of it. Despite failing to test Gib’s defence greatly in the first half, they came out with a lot more intent in the second half, slowly establishing themselves into the contest. An action packed three minute period saw Jersey first equalise, in the 65th minute, after a bit of a scramble saw Craig Russell score his third goal in two games to equalise. In the 68th minute, Gibraltar were reduced to 10 men due to a second bookable offence.
The sending off did little to lower the spirits of the Gibraltarian players, as they pushed forward more, resulting in an entertaining, open game which saw both teams have chances to win. With five minutes to go though, another controversial decision would affect the game.
Gib were attacking the goal when the referee gave a penalty for a tackle in the box, infuriating the Jersey players. However, the linesman, after much deliberation, convinced the referee to overturn his initial decision, much to the anger and dismay of the Gibraltarians, and the crowd. The game ended slightly controversially, as the referee blew for full time as Gib were on a counter, and just yards outside the Jersey box.
Extra time proved to be just as entertaining as the original 90 minutes, as both teams, despite understandable tiredness from playing two games in three days, pushed on, both looking to get another goal. However, it was Gib that managed to secure a second goal, through substitute Kyle Casciaro. In the process of this goal, Jersey’s goalkeeper, Craig Fletcher, injured himself. With no subs left, Jersey had to put an outfield player in goal, levelling the playing field.
This only lasted 10 minutes, however. As Gib attacked, they had a potential penalty shout. It wasn’t given by either the referee or the linesman, and the player taken down was livid at the decision. His anger eventually led to him being sent off, either for violent conduct, or foul and abusive language. This led to a long delay in play, and gave Jersey more of an incentive to equalise.
The openness of the game remained, and as time wore down, Gib managed to kill of most of the remainder of the game in the corner flags. Eventually the referee blew his whistle one last time, and Gibraltar won a cracking final 2-1.
The medal presentations for all four teams, as well as the four officials in the final, were undertaken shortly after the final whistle, with Gib lifting up the International Challenge Shield.
Notably during the game, was the influence of the Isle of Man national team, who were sitting in the crowd. They brought the atmosphere up considerably, and generally seemed to have enjoyed their trip to Gibraltar, which was nice to see.