Gold for Gibraltar Hockey
Gibraltar 3 - Slovakia 2
Day 5 of competitive matches and with the prospect of a Gibraltar win and a first gold medal looming it was a very nervous and anxious team that got together for the team talk.
Slovakia had to beat the Gibraltar team by at least 2 goals to have a chance of winning the competition and Gib only needed a draw to practically seal the gold.
Gibraltar started off in fine form and within the first 4 minutes had two short corners stopped on the line by the Slovak defence. As the minutes ticked away it was evident the Slovaks had changed their formation and their unorthodox 4-2-4 in attack was troubling the Gib team's 2-3-5 system. In the 15th & 18th minute the Sovaks had two short corners and from the second they scored following a well drilled ‘drag & deflection'.
It took the Gib team most of the 1st half to get into a good tempo and in the 27th great, fast play by Ian Rodriguez and Mark Casciaro resulted in the latter scoring the equalizer,1-1.
The first 10 minutes of the 2nd half followed the same pattern with the Gib team looking very edgy on the pitch and the two Slovak forwards troubling our goal on several occasions. In the 56th Slovakia again went into the lead following a succession of uncharacteristic mistakes by our defence. With 2-1 on the score board the Gib team suddenly went on the rampage.
After a relatively quiet 1st half, Mark Casciaro and Gareth Henwood burst into action and it was evident from the chances they started creating that the equalizer was bound to come. With 6 minutes to go and from a short corner the Gib team tried one of their specials, left for moments like these. Ball pushed out by, stopped by Eric Abudarham, Gareth Henwood faked a shot, the ball was slipped to Shane Ramagge who blasted it for a diving Stefan Rodiguez and the ball was roofed into the goal for 2-2.
The Slovaks were completely outplayed in these last few minutes and another short corner special resulted in Garteh Henwood being illegally impeded from taking a shot and a penalty stroke was awarded to Gibraltar. With 2 minutes remaining, the ticking clock did not have any effect on Gareth, who cooly sent the keeper the wrong way and scored the winner to earn Gibraltar its first Gold medal in a Nations Championships with a memorable 3-2 win.
On Friday the Gibraltar team played their last match against Bulgaria and , with the Gold now safely in the bag, the Management team used the game to give the six youngsters valuable time and experience playing at international level.