by CHRIS WRIGHT
More than 800 fans made the four hour trip north as Olhanense took on their nearer league rivals Vitória de Setúbal.
The great bond of friendship between the fishing communities of Olhão and Setúbal was highlighted as the supporters danced, sang and enjoyed a BBQ in the shadow of the Estádio do Bonfim.
The travelling fans were not so happy nine minutes into the game after their team had conceded two early goals.
After just two minutes keeper Fabiano Freitas flapped at a cross and the ball fell to João Silva, on loan at V.Setúbal from Everton. Toy, who replaced the suspended Salvador Agra, made a desperate lunge for the ball but felled the striker and referee Carlos Xistra had no hesitation in awarding a spot-kick. Meyong, making his home debut after signing from SC Braga, stepped up to convert the kick.
Minutes later and matters got worse for the visitors as Fernando Alexandre headed past his own keeper. 2-0 up and the home side were on course for their first league victory since September 30.
But this Olhanense side has been transformed under new manager Sérgio Conceição. Fifteen minutes later and centre-forward Yontcha reduced the arrears as he swivelled to fire beyond the outstretched dive of Diego.
Injured in the attempted save, Diego was replaced by Ricardo and four minutes later it was his turn to pick the ball out of the net as Yontcha levelled the scores after good work by skipper Rui Duarte.
Toy and then Yontcha almost added to the tally before half-time. At the other end there was still time for Ismaily to make a goal-line clearance as he headed over Kiko’s goal bound shot with Fabiano well beaten.
The second-half started with Mauricio seeing his bullet header being cleared of the line by Miguelito who was also V.Setúbal’s saviour when he blocked Wilson Eduardo’s powerful volley with Ricardo well beaten. Jander replaced Toy and Vasco Fernandes came on for Mexer as Olhanense pressed for the winner.
The replacements were to be providential as Vasco Fernandes whipped in a right-wing cross that Ismaily steered home.
The visitors comfortably controlled the remaining ten minutes as they recorded their second away win of the season and moved into 7th place.
Shock of the weekend was FC Porto losing 3-1 at Gil Vicente. After 717 days and 55 matches, the Dragon’s unbeaten run in the Primeira Liga came to an end.
Benfica, 2-1 winners at Feirense, are now five points clear at the top.
In 1943, on the occasion of Vitória’s first Portugal Cup Final thousands of people from Setúbal invaded Lisbon and, although the team lost 5-1 to Benfica, the fans celebrated in an emotional demonstration of fair play.
In the next day’s press, the people from Setúbal were nicknamed 8º Exército (the 8th Army) in comparison with the British Eighth Army and its World War II exploits in Africa under Field Marshal Montgomery which were followed with great enthusiasm by the Portuguese people.
Referring to this in the late 1990s, the first official supporters’ association was baptized VIII Exército. They show great dedication to the club and are recognised as one of the most orderly groups in Portugal. The club has been managed by two icons of British football; Jimmy Hagan (1979–80) and the extrovert Malcolm Allison (1986–88).
NEXT LEAGUE ACTION
There is no official game this weekend due to the League Cup, from which Olhanense were eliminated prior to Christmas.
There may be a friendly fixture arranged with one of the various top European sides currently taking their mid-season break on the Algarve.
Check at www.jiilingo.com for up-to-date information.
Olhanense return to league action at the José Arcanjo Stadium, Olhão on Sunday, February 12, kick-off: 4.00pm against Rio Ave.
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