Wednesday’s game vs Estonia, the second of a double header for Allen Bula’s team, required a vastly improved performance to that of Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Faroes. Despite the end score, the performance by Gib was much better, so much so that the team could feel aggrieved not to have drawn the game.
The return to midfield of Liam Walker was key in improving the passing game of Gibraltar, whilst a more attacking role allowed Joseph Chipolina the freedom to bomb forward. In fact it was Joseph who was only denied a goal by a sharp save by Estonian keeper Sergei Pareiko, which would have been a fair reward for Gibraltar’s play. The second Estonian goal was a classic case of a team pushing for an equaliser but being caught out, but nevertheless the performance put in was more encouraging that what had been offered up on Saturday.
In his 450th, and final game in football, Danny Higginbotham put in a typically assured performance, and deserved the reception he got when he was substituted near the end. Very few players start their senior career in an away game at Barnsley, before ending it at the Victoria Stadium. After almost 17 years as a player though, Danny now looks set to join the Gibraltar coaching staff, using his important knowledge and experience of football at the highest level to help Gibraltar as they head on towards the European Championship qualifiers.
For Gibraltar, the next international game is not until May 26, a return friendly vs Estonia in Tallinn. By then, more players may have declared their eligibility for the national team, and more domestic players would have pushed forward their own cases for inclusion, what with the season concluding just before the squad will be announced.
With not too many friendly opportunities left until September’s qualifier vs Poland, there isn’t a lot of time for the Gibraltar squad to prepare for games of such magnitude. However, if Wednesday’s game said anything, is that progress is indeed being made; something that some may have understandably doubted on Saturday night.