Tag Archives: Lee Casciaro

Super Lincoln go ballistic, Celtic were atrocious

12 Jul

It’s been done before. I don’t care! Brentford fans, you get your ‘Last Word’ fix tomorrow.Right now, let’s just cut to the chase and reflect on the enormity of Lincoln Red Imps (champions of Gibraltar) beating Celtic (one time European cup winners) 1-0 in the Champion’s League .

Long have these pages celebrated those fleeting moments of triumph from this most fledgling of footballing nations. Long have we absorbed the mocking of Spanish (and other) supporters.

Yet, yet, yet…. write off anybody at your peril when it comes to football. Forget the statistics. Forget the futsal. Forget the tippy-tappy. When it comes down to it, there’s only one thing that counts – the result after 90 minutes.

“A result which ranks as the most embarrassing in Celtic’s history.” Not my words but those of journalism’s, The Independent.

“The Shock of Gibraltar: Celtic beaten by minnows in Brendan Rodgers’ first match.” Not my words but those of The Mail.

Brendan Rodgers’ first game as Celtic boss ended in humiliation as his Hoops side were humbled 1-0 by Lincoln Red Imps in in the first leg of their second Champions League qualifier at the Victoria stadium.” Not my words etc.etc…. The Telegraph.

“Celtic suffered arguably the worst defeat in their history when they were humbled by Gibraltarian part-timers Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League second qualifying round.” This time from the BBC.

“We wanted an easier job after the first leg, and this makes it a bit more complicated, but we will be fine for the second game.” Most definitely not my words but those of Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

Brendan, I wouldn’t be so sure.

It was a scoreline you can only dream of.Let’s not forget that Gibraltar (pop 30,000ish) have only been UEFA members since 2013.  If Iceland beating England in the Euros may have been deemed an upset, this one comes in at an 11 on the Richter scale of shocks.

Forget sleeping giants. This was a sleeping policeman. MOD police office Lee Casciaro giving Rodgers a (cardiac) arrest in his first competitive game at the helm of Celtic.

No, being the clear answer

What more can you say? Celtic are still giving it large, despite having lost. On reputation and history then surely they will sweep the boys from Gibraltar to one side in the second leg next week.

The again, on reputation and history they should have done that on Tuesday night.

What a result. Congratulations to Lincoln Red Imps in producing a shock on the Rock. Here’s to the second leg…..

Nick Bruzon

 

Could Gibraltar – Germany see the biggest upset since records began?

13 Jun

Whilst I would imagine most Brentford eyes are going to be on Stuart Dallas and Northern Ireland’s attempt to beat group leaders Romania in the Euro qualifiers tonight, there is an alternative. And in one of football’s most unlikely yet romantic fixtures, it sees Gibraltar entertain Germany in Group D.

I talked about Gibraltar many times last season (all of which are in the 2014/15 review) with the reverse fixture in Germany, back in November, being one of the highlights. Despite Liam Walker almost scoring a stunner for the boys from the Rock with a dipping shot from 35 yards that left Manuel Neuer furiously backpedalling to just beat out for a corner, the World Champions eventually ran out 4-0 victors.

Gibraltar come close to one of the goals, and shocks, of the season.

It was a game that Germany boss Joachim Löw had gone into full of bellicose confidence, promising at the time, “ There will be many attacking players on the pitch tomorrow. We don’t need four defenders at the back. We need players to set the tone up front.”

Instead he was left to rue coming up against a resolute opposition as he was forced to admit, “We wanted to play as world champions and four goals are too few”.

Things have moved on for Gibraltar since that night. They’ve already dropped the bracketings that saw their opening qualifiers end in 7(seven)-0 defeats whilst, last time out against Scotland, they scored their first international goal as Lee Casciaro levelled things up 18 minutes into the game. Whilst Scotland went on to win, things are definitely improving on the pitch for European football’s newest member.

Sky Sports viewers saw Lee Casciaro make history for Gibraltar in Scotland

Sky Sports viewers saw Lee Casciaro make history for Gibraltar in Scotland

So what does it mean for tonight? Well, Joachim Löw was certainly a lot more understated about his team’s chances than last time out in the final press conference before the game. Acknowledging that, “The matches against Australia and USA proved that there is a means of killing our game early on, which makes it hard for us.” has he given Gibraltar a clue about the approach they should take?

For me, it is another ‘nothing to lose’ chance for this team to find their feet on the international stage. Löw was honest enough to admit that last time out, “It wasn’t an easy game. They’re tactically astute and we found it tough for long periods” before going on to hope that Germany “score lots of goals”.

So – strangle the game, and catch them on the break. Indeed, the pressure of knowing that not only do they need to win, but win heavily, can do strange things to a team currently fighting it out with Scotland for second and third place. The difference between automatic qualification for the finals and play off against, potentially, Netherlands or Ukraine is a huge one.

Could it happen for Gibraltar tonight? It would be the biggest upset since records began but then I said something similar last time out. Probably.

One thing’s for sure, they’ll be giving it their all and will have an entire nation behind them. I just wonder how far the tentacles of Matthew Benham’s statistical model reach?

Tonight Sky Sports 5; tomorrow Griffin Park? You never know….

Gibraltar have packed their boots.What about the defensive wall?

Gibraltar have packed their boots.What about the defensive wall?

Joyless Joey misses the point as Fulham await Bees

31 Mar

This time next week Brentford will have a much better idea of how serious our Championship promotion aspirations are. We’ll be waking up after the home game against Nottingham Forest whilst, before that, comes the trip to Fulham on Friday.

I really cannot wait for that one. Its been a long time coming and with over 6,000 Brentford fans present, The Cottage is sure to be rocking – as much as it can rock, given the deluge of foam hands reported to be on display. It would be fair to say that both Fulham fans and Bees are anticipating a lively afternoon with several of our respective ‘forums’ – cottagecorner and the GPG (amongst others) – running lengthy streams on what this game means and what they are expecting.

It's tight at the top with 7(seven) left to play

It’s tight at the top with 7(seven) left to play

For me, it is simply a chance to get another three points whilst, if we are successful, helping push our neighbours another step close to relegation. I’d love to take the moral high ground and say ‘this is just another game, with wining the most important thing’, but local pride counts for one hell of a lot. And whilst, sadly, Blackpool, Wigan Athletic and Millwall seem to be doing everything possible to tie up the bottom three, I can still dream.

We haven’t played each other too much in recent seasons but whenever the F word is mentioned I’m instantly taken back to season 1991/92. A 1-0 win at Fulham on October 5th (my 21st birthday game and one from which I still have the away shirt given that day –and will be worn on Friday) was followed by that end of season 4-0 demolition at Griffin Park.

Four up at half time, it was one of the most astounding performances I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing and, of course, was soon followed by promotion at Peterborough United. It’s probably an omen too far to compare this one to that but, at the least, we have already won the first game – the late, late show in front of the TV cameras at Griffin Park in November. Jota was the man of the moment, following up Harlee’s thunderbolt as a dominant Brentford turned around a 1-0 deficit.

Equally though, it’ll be great to get back to League action after an international break that seems to have lasted longer than Ray Biggar doing ‘injury time’. The positives have seen impressive performances from the likes of Moses Odubajo, Stuart Dallas and Alex Pritchard (who made it onto the pitch again last night during England U-21’s 3-2 win over Germany).

The downside of all this international football, lack of Championship programme aside, has been having to listen to the gumph spouted by Joey Barton about the likes of Gibraltar competing in the qualifying groups. Truly he is a joyless man (and that’s probably the politest thing I can say about him in print).

Not withstanding the rights of these UEFA members to compete (and nobody needs another lecture on the struggle Gibraltar have been through to become ‘team 54’), if you do away with anybody not deemed of sufficient stock then one wonders what is the point of even having a qualifying tournament.

Of 54 UEFA members, 24 will make it to the finals anyway – just under half. By Barton’s logic (surely an oxymoron if ever I heard one), why not take things a step further, dispense totally with the chance of upsets, romance, competition and just jump straight to a semi final pool involving Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Italy?

Let’s be honest, the likes of Scotland or Wales aren’t going to trouble anybody once we get to the finals in 2016 so what’s the point of cluttering the calendar giving them a chance to qualify or, heaven forbid, allowing them to play competitive football rather than friendlies?

Nobody has divine right to be ‘any good’. English teams aren’t exactly blazing a trail in European competition whilst the World Cup was hardly a glorious triumph (for the one ‘Home Nation’ to qualify). Despite the hype, it’s been a long while since the engravers have even had to be placed on standby yet the likes of Barton seem to think that only one result ever counts – England 1966. Move on Joey, wonderful though that was the footballing landscape has changed. Football is constantly talking about inclusivity – pushing teams that UEFA have granted membership to outside of their competition is hardly the way to demonstrate this.

This is one you could write a book on and, frankly, I’ve got better things to do than overly concentrate on the International game in a, predominantly, domestic column. But I couldn’t end this without a big ‘congratulations’ to Lee Casciaro and his Gibraltar team mates.

Their equaliser at Hampden Park against Scotland on Sunday was the stuff of dreams. A first ever goal in International competition for the boys from the Rock.

Us Brentford fans, of anybody, should know what it feels like to defy expectation this season. Whilst I can’t see Gibraltar coming close to being at the business end of qualifying for a while, the time will come.

Still, with the greatest respect to Gibraltar, for me it is all about Fulham on Friday. Bring it on….

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 06.34.53

Sky viewers saw Lee Casciaro make history