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Amateur Cup Preliminary Round Review

Published: Sat 17 Sep 2022, 18:26


Pembroke Athleta 2-6 Zebbug Rovers
The Gozitans of Zebbug Rovers obtained a large win over Pembroke, to book their place in the 1st round of the 2022/23 Amateur Cup. However, for long stretches and despite being beaten with a heavy score, it was Vince Carbonaro’s Pembroke who dictated play with more ball possession throughout the game. The Rovers were deadly on the counter-attack, with Colombian attacker Daniel Mesa scoring four of the goals. The visitors opened the score with their very first kick at goal thanks to a grounder by Matthion Formosa on three minutes. Eight minutes later it was 0-2 thanks to an Eric Gauci goal with a shot from the edge of the box straight at Pembroke goalkeeper Brylan Tabone who somehow failed to save the attempt. Mesa made it 0-3 on 18 minutes with an accurate grounder. On the half hour, Weverton dribbled his way into the box but his attempt was saved by Baskal Saliba, the Rovers’ custodian. One minute later, Pembroke were awarded a penalty when Paul Spiteri fouled Gareth Buttigieg in the box, with Weverton converting from 11-meters. In the attack that followed, Weverton’s shot from the edge of the area hit the crossbar. However, on 38 minutes, Mesa added his second and on the stroke of half-time, Mese added goal number five for Zebbug, rounding off a Formosa cross from close-range.
Pembroke substitute Larkin Attard reduced the arrears on 64 minutes with a close-range header, while on 73 minutes, Gary Grant should have scored a third for Pembroke but the substitute missed from close-range. On the stroke of full-time, Mesa added Zebbug’s sixth and his personal fourth from a counter-attack. Zebbug Rovers will now play Siggiewi in the 1st round of the Amateur Cup.

Kalkara United 2-1 Msida St Joseph
This was a typical game of ‘two halves’ with Kalkara dominating procedures before the break, while Msida took control in the second half. Man of the match was undoubtedly Kalkara’s Julian Zammit, who’s work-rate was second to none, scored a goal and created goalscoring opportunities for his teammates. The Greens were the better side in the first half and after Michael Theuma missed a good opportunity on 28 minutes, Dhonatan put his team 1-0 up on 34 minutes with a shot from just outside the box, which beat Msida goalkeeper Justin Tonna via the inside of the post. Seven minutes later, Kalkara doubled thanks to a Julian Zammit goal, who hit past Tonna in the rebound. St Joseph started the second half well and most definitely saw more of the ball. But just after the hour, Zammit could have added a third for Kalkara with a header from a Gilbert Martin cross which was tipped over the crossbar by Tonna. On 70 minutes, Msida’s task became even harder when Mifsud-Triganza was shown the red card for violent conduct after an off-the-ball incident with Kalkara defender Ryan Cauchi, the first red card in the career of 41-year-old striker. With ten minutes regular time left, Agatino Sicali was brought down in the box for Msida and Giovanni Galea made no mistake from the penalty spot to give Msida a lifeline. On 87 minutes, also Kalkara wingback David Azzopardi was sent-off, receiving his second yellow card of the night. Msida pushed hard for an equaliser with perhaps the best opportunity by Mark Camilleri but his attempt sailed high. The same Camilleri got a red card as well for retaliation deep into stoppage time. Kalkara will now meet Xghajra Tornados in the 1st round of this competition.

Munxar Falcons 2-0 Gharb Rangers
This match between two Gozitan 2nd Division sides was won by Munxar with two late goals by new Colombian recruit Henry Solis. In a very balanced but goalless first half, Munxar came closest on five minutes when Solis was released on the right, but his shot was off-target and did not trouble Gharb goalkeeper John-Paul Cassar much. On the other side, Gabriel Debrincat’s header from a Marco Ciangura cross brought the best out of Daniel Galea, the Munxar custodian, on 39 minutes. Right after the break, Gharb veteran wingback John-Paul Grima came close with a shot which was blocked by Cassar. The level of play certainly dropped after that as neither team could create any danger in the opponents’ box. On 85 minutes, Galea had to stretch to save an effort by Gharb’s Brazilian substitute Pablo Soares from the edge of the box. On the other side, with a minute regular time left on the clock, the referee awarded a clear penalty after Chris Gafa brought down Munxar’s Stefan Farrugia in the box. Solis did not fail from 11-meters to break the deadlock. Three minutes later, Solis even drilled home the second for Munxar, to seal the match and to send Munxar Falcons into the 1st round. They will now need to travel to Malta to play St George’s.

SKVW 1-2 Xaghra United aet
This was a well contested match between the two teams who are expected to be amongst the frontrunners in the GFA 2nd Division this season. Xaghra United were the better side in the opening 45 minutes and it was Luke Meilak who put Xaghra 1-0 up with a well taken first-timer from the edge of the box, which surprised goalkeeper Omar Xuereb in the far corner. Colombian striker Leiner Panesso, who returned to Gozo from two seasons in the lower Bosnian leagues, created a lot of trouble up front and was hard to mark by the SKVW defenders. Seven minutes after the break, SKVW equalised from a corner action thanks to Aud-Gustine James Obaje, who tapped home after goalkeeper Lorjean Xuereb misjudged a corner by Owen Fenech. On 75 minutes, Xaghra substitute Luke Sultana was sent through but missed target with Xuereb far out of his goal. Om the stroke of full-time, Lorjan Xuereb performed a great save on an Emerson Zammit attempt. In the very last minute of extra time, Fabian Xuereb scored the winner for Xaghra with an accurate shot from the edge of the box from a corner action. Xaghra will now meet Qormi in the 1st round of the Amateur Cup.

Senglea Athletic 3-2 Mellieha
Last Wednesday night, both Senglea and Mellieha faced each other in an entertaining clash, with Senglea being the better side, beating the Blues by the odd goal in five. On 18 minutes, Mellieha took a surprise lead when they were awarded a penalty when Senglea captain Keith Vella illegally halted a run by Mellieha striker Jean Scholey. Wayne Chetcuti stepped up to put Mellieha in front. Just after the half hour mark, Mellieha goalkeeper James Magro performed a great save on a close-range Shaban Chikh Ali attempt. But on 34 minutes, the young Syrian forward managed to beat Magro with a grounder after being sent through on the right side. Chikh Ali missed a golden opportunity to put his team in front on 41 minutes when he headed over the bar from an ideal position after a precise Sebastian Perdomo cross. But on the stroke of half-time, Vella headed Senglea in front from close-range from a precise Wayne Borg cross. Senglea pressed hard for a third goal after the break but found Mellieha trying to get an equaliser with fast breaks. On 83 minutes however, it was game over when Timmy Thomas rounded off another assist from Perdomo. On the stroke of full-time, Alexander Akl brought back the excitement in the match, rounding off a Scholey cross at the second post. However, the score remained 3-2 with the Cottonera side facing Mgarr United in the 1st round.

Qormi 2-1 Santa Venera Lightnings
This was an action-packed match which resulted in Qormi coming back from behind, advancing onto the next round of the Amateur Cup to meet Gozo side Xaghra United. It was just after eight minutes that Santa Venera’s Luke Taliana put his side in front after his low shot beat Qormi custodian Damian Borg. On 22 minutes, both teams were on level terms thanks to Abner, whose brilliant run was followed with a low shot to the bottom right corner, beating Clyde Aquilina. On 32 minutes, a cross by Sheldon Seychell was met by Abner whose attempt ended up millimetres wide of the post.
In the 51st minute, Aquilina was once again called into action, after a shot by captain Iro Curmi had to be saved and tipped to the crossbar. Seven minutes later, a pass by substitute Alexander Nilsson to Curmi was saved once again by Aquilina. Two minutes later, another shot by Seychell was saved by the Santa Venera shot stopper. Ten minutes later, a long-range volley by Nilsson just missed target. In the 78th minute, a series of short passes by Qormi saw Leon Theuma try his luck from the edge of the box, with his ending up in the back of the net to score the winning goal. Four minutes into stoppage time, a free kick by Azzopardi to captain Ryan Bezzina required Borg to be alert, who saved well.

St Lawrence Spurs 0-6 Birzebbuga St Peter’s
As the score-line indicates, there was no doubt who was the better side in this Gozo – Malta clash at the Kercem Arkafort Stadium. Birzebbuga already came close on seven minutes with a shot by Keith Muscat that was parried by Spurs’ goalkeeper Joel Xiberras. The Maltese were ahead on 19 minutes when a shot by Andrely Makela found the net. St Lawrence reacted immediately with a fine freekick by Azzopardi that was parried for a corner by Ristan Schembri. Birzebbuga could have made it two on 32 minutes when Makela’s shot from a corner slammed against the crossbar.
But in stoppage time of the first half, the Blues doubled after a precise free kick by Makela was headed home by Yessous Camilleri. The Southseasiders put the game to bed on 53 minutes when they were awarded a penalty which was cooly converted by Keith Muscat. Another penalty followed on 64 minutes when Xiberras fouled Jean Claude Cassar and this time, Gambian substitute Touray Ousman converted. A third penalty was given on 68 minutes after a handball in the box. Now it was another substitute, Shaun Galea, who stepped up and kicked the ball behind Xiberras. The final goal came on 82 minutes courtesy of Yessous Camilleri, his second of the day. Birzebbuga are now playing Ta’ Xbiex in the 1st round.

Kirkop United 5-2 Gharghur aet
This was a knock out match to remember, a true classic with lots of late drama, seven goals in the process and Kirkop coming back from being two goals down. All the five Kirkop goals came from substitutes, an occurrence rarely seen in Maltese football, also showing the magic hand of coach Jeffrey Mifsud. Gharghur started brightly and after just a minute, an excellent freekick by Karl Azzopardi was saved by Clayton Rapa. After more pressure from Gharghur, the green and whites finally took a deserved lead on 34 minutes when Robert Ciantar stabbed home from close range.
Two minutes before the break, Gharghur increased their lead from the penalty spot with Jayden Aquilina converting with ease. Gharghur should have made it three on 49 minutes, but Aquilina saw his shot from just two yards out miraculously blocked with the keeper beaten. With the clock showing 88 minutes, Gharghur looked home and dry. However, Kirkop pulled one back a minute from time through substitute Quelin Micallef. In the action that followed, Gharghur were reduced to ten when Samuel Agius was shown his marching orders after an ugly tackle. Mifsud’s side threw all on attack to force extra time and managed just that by equalising deep into stoppage time with a header by substitute Simone Lo Presti.
Kirkop took maximum advantage against ten Gharghur players during the extra 30 minutes. Towards the end of the first half of extra time, on 101 minutes, Kirkop overturned the match with Micallef scoring his second of the night after rounding the Gharghur goalie. Three minutes later, Kirkop made it 4-2 through Benjamin Battistino, who beat Galea with a low shot. One minute before the end, Miguel Calleja hammered goal number five, to send Kirkop into the 1st round, in where they have to deal with the Mdina Knights.

Dingli Swallows 1-2 Ta’ Xbiex
For the third consecutive year, Dingli Swallows were eliminated at the first hurdle in this competition, this time beaten by Ta’ Xbiex by the odd goal in three. After the draw was made, many at Dingli raised hopes of reaching the last 16 but in reality, the seasiders were sharper and fresher on the night, a deserved victory for the Blacks. After five minutes play, Ta' Xbiex were already leading. Captain Mauro Busuttil received the ball in midfield and after managing to get past two defenders, he saw Dingli goalkeeper Adam Benjelloun too far from his goal line, with the ball ending in the net after a wonderful precise kick, a great goal. Before the break, Dingli had no answer but did manage to create some danger after the break. They even thought they had equalised in the 65th minute but the goal was ruled out for off-side. In the attack that followed on the other side, Busuttil doubled the score putting the ball in the top right corner for his second of the evening. Six minutes later, Dingli managed to get a goal back with substitute Luke Galea heading the ball behind Deacon Grech after receiving a cross from the left by Andrea Farrugia. But it was too little too late for the Swallows, with Ta’ Xbiex now meeting Birzebbuga St Peter’s in the next round.

Rabat Ajax 2-3 Ghaxaq aet
Ghaxaq set up a clash with Zabbar St. Patrick in the Round of 16 after defeating Rabat Ajax 3-2 after extra-time. A surprise result of the team coached by Rennie Zahra, who managed to transform his side this summer with one to take care off in both league and knock-out. The Magpies started well and showed great determination in the opening minutes, taking the lead with a close-range effort by Calvin Grech after just three minutes. Barely three minutes later, Rabat almost made it 2-0 but Zachary Tanti's header hit the crossbar. Ghaxaq replied with a Ryden Gatt effort which ended just over the bar on 11 minutes and two minutes later, a powerful drive by Josef Dalli just missed the target. Ghaxaq levelled matters on 32 minutes when Gatt received a cross from the right and hit home from close range. Just before the end of the first half, Julian Farrugia's angled shot was neutralised by Leon Seisun.
Early in the second half, attempts by Matthew Farrugia and Ian Caruana were both parried by Seisun but on 55 minutes, Ghaxaq forged ahead when following a good move by Shamizen Buhagiar on the left, he served Gatt who deposited the ball inside the net. Ghaxaq were now in command and an attempt by Dusan Petrovic from outside the area four minutes later was partially saved by Kyle Barbara. Rabat replied with an angled shot by fast Japanese winger Nobukatsu Tsuchiuya which was parried by Seisun. But the Magpies equalised two minutes from time when Kane Micallef's effort from the left was not held by the Ghaxaq custodian with the ball slipping from underneath him. Four minutes into added time, Ghaxaq almost went 3-2 ahead but Barbara performed a great save at point blank on Dejan Buhagiar.
In the first half of extra-time, Gatt had another low shot from outside the area saved by the Rabat goalkeeper while Kurt Agius had an angled shot saved by Seisun and in added time, Agius had a close-range effort neutralised once again by the Ghaxaq goalkeeper. Ghaxaq notched the winner one minute from the end of the second half of extra-time thanks to Dusan Petrovic whose fine curling shot from outside the area ended in the top right corner.

Mgarr United 4-3 Luqa St Andrew’s aet
This was another knock out classic with two teams full on the attack, seven goals scored, a red card and a missed penalty on the stroke of full-time. The Northerners took the lead on 13 minutes when Christian Saint Ebisindor’s shot hat the better of Luqa goalkeeper Jake Taliana. On 25 minutes, Luqa equalised thanks to Romanian forward Andrei-Alexandru Vasinc, who headed past Jacob Chircop-St John, rounding off a cross from the right. Mgarr tried to restore their lead and came close on the half hour mark with again Saint Ebisindor coming closing, but Taliana saved his close-range header in style. On 41 minutes however, Saint Ebisindor found himself in a similar position and this time did not fail, heading past Taliana to give Mgarr the lead at the break. Mgarr carried on their momentum after the break and immediately scored in the 47th minute when a long cross found Saint Ebisindor, who squared a ball in the penalty box and the attack was finished off by Saturday Nanapere to put Mgarr on velvet. The team of Jason Camenzuli kept on dominating and were unlucky on 71 minutes when Saint Ebisindor hit the post. Somehow, Luqa did not lose hope and with a bit of luck pulled one back on 78 minutes when Lucky Nwaogu scored with a shot which took a deflection of a Mgarr defender. The original St Andrew’s were pushing forward trying to equalize but were leaving gaps at the back. In one of these counter-attacks on 83 minutes, Saint Ebisindor missed a golden opportunity to send Mgarr through but Taliana kept Luqa in the match with another splendid save. Larson Mallia then equalised for St Andrew’s with a wonderful long-range effort which sailed into the next with Chircop St John beaten. Deep into stoppage time, after Mgarr coach Camenzuli was sent-off for dissent, Luqa could have sealed the win after being awarded a penalty. Mallia stepped up to take the kick but his shot was saved by Chircop-St John, sending the game into extra time. But on 103 minutes Mgarr, on their turn, were also awarded a spotkick and this time Nanapere made no mistake for Mgarr to regain the lead. At the end of the first half of extra time, Luqa’s Andy Camilleri received his second yellow and was send for an early shower. Mgarr sat out the rest of the time, with St Andrew’s being unable to threaten with ten players. The Greens now meet another relegated side from the Challenge League last season; Senglea Athletic.

The 1st round of the 2022/23 Amateur Cup will be played in the weekend of 8 and 9 October.

Images copyright by Joe Borg, Anthony Cassar and Matthias Brancaleone