RAF ON THE ROCK

The RAF report from their recent trip to promote women’s football in Gibraltar, where they also played the national team, before returning home to take on the GB Police side.

Representatives from the Royal Air Force too part in ‘Fun Football Friday’ at Westside Secondary school in Gibraltar last week, helping to promote the bond between the RAF FA and the Gibraltar FA.

A session was held for girls of all abilities, aged 4-12 in the school gymnasium. Present were coaches Hugh McCluskie, Mark Simpson, Paul O’Brien, Daniel McNamara and team manager Michelle Harvey Perkins.

An enjoyable time was had by all and the girls thoroughly enjoyed being put through their paces by serving members of the RAF.
RAF Ladies General Manager McCluskie said “This was a great opportunity to give something back to the local community in Gibraltar. The National FA here have been so accommodating arranging a fixture against the women’s national team, aiding our preparations for the Inter Services fixtures in March. Although being here, working with the girls and seeing the smiles on their faces is reward in itself!”

Pictured – Gibraltar and RAF teams.

Gibraltar 0-3 RAF

The RAF warmed up for the upcoming inter-services competition with a convincing 3-0 win against Gibraltar. A fast start was rewarded when Ashleigh Mackenzie raced through and slotted under onrushing Gibraltar goalkeeper Kyrelle Revagliatte for an early lead, and the signs looked ominous.

However, as the game progressed,, the hosts with their high pressing style came more into proceedings, and Charlyann Pizzarello stood out as a constant danger down their left flank. As the first half was drawing to a close, the RAF’s Keri Haywood was released one-on-one but was denied by an outstanding save from Revagliatte. The teams went in at half time with the RAF leading 1-0.

Under the imposing Rock of Gibraltar

The second half ebbed and flowed until it exploded with Lorena Garcia’s free kick from 25 yards expertly tipped over by RAF goalkeeper Lucy Whitfield.

The RAF then gradually took control, and with the GFA defence under heavy pressure, Haywood scrambled the goal her play deserved in the 80th minute. Captain Zara Mcintosh rounded off the scoring on 85 minutes, finishing a flowing move by turning in the adroit cross of Robyn Stewart.

All in all a close fought, competitive match ended 3-0 to the RAF with both teams able to hold their heads high. Lynette Alvarez of the Gibraltar FA said “It is a great experience for our national team to play against the RAF and you could see tonight the progress women’s football in Gibraltar is making. We look forward to the next challenge”.

Kick-off between Gibraltar and RAF

RAF 1-4 GB Police

The last game prior to the 2016 IS campaign for the RAF, saw them take on the GB Police team on 24 February at Thame FC.

Despite an intense week of training in Gibraltar, the RAF got off to a quick start, gaining early possession and Zara Mcintosh had an early chance on goal but was denied by some quick and agile defending from Vicky Ashton-Jones. Sam Wylie’s cross  resulted in a narrowly missed header from Steph Lee and Cat Beaver was also unable to convert, Wylie later seeing her shot palmed away as RAF began feeling frustrated.

A 25-yard screamer from Emma Kerser proved too much for RAF goalkeeper Lucy Whitfield. The remainder of the first half saw further solid possession from the RAF but they were unable to level the score before the half time whistle.

GB Police took confidence from their first half advantage and 5 minutes in, Carly Davies struck a fine left foot shot from the 18 yard box to make it 2-0. But a fine piece of play from the RAF resulted in a quick lob of the keeper by Cat Beaver to pull a goal back.

A handball by midfielder Tara Scott saw a quick take from GB Police and another goal from the increasingly dangerous Davies. Lauren Cassin came on and added pace and tenacity to the RAF midfield dynamic only for Davies to achieve her hat-trick on the hour mark.

Pictured – GB Police and RAF teams

GB Police manager Fiona Gehring said after the match: “It was an excellent performance all around, with fantastic teamwork and link up play. These fixtures are a great tradition and a chance to represent your service, promote football and enjoy women’s sport”.

RAF LRT Dep Manager Mike Tierney said after the match: “This was a tough but even match against an excellent GB Police squad. We take our hats off to some of their finishing today which was first class.
“Looking forward this has been the culmination of an excellent training camp which we hope will stand us in good stead for the Inter Services fixures against the Royal Navy and the Army in March.
“I would like to wish GB Police the best of luck when the represent the country at the European Police Football championships in Prague later in the year”.

All images by Mike Tierney

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