General Category

Three identical draws in Top Six weekend games

Published: Mon 26 Feb 2024, 21:53
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Melita 1-1 Zabbar St Patrick
There was a limited program in the Challenge League last weekend as the Play Out group were not in action, which means just three matches in the very entertaining Top Six promotion battle.
The match of weekend was undoubtedly the clash between the top two between Zabbar St Patricks and Melita, tied on points before the match and eventually also after the match with a 1-1 stalemate outcome. The Amateurs scored a penalty early in the match but St Patrick cancelled out their advantage with a late goal.
In the early stages both teams were studying each other and maintained a cautious approach not to concede a goal immediately. Clive Mizzi's side opened the scoring in the 27th minute through a penalty. Matthew Grech parried Jesus-Andres Yepez's attempt at goal with Matthew Ellul handling Andre Carlos' rebound. The penalty was converted by Matthew Debattista.
Andre Carlos could have doubled ten minutes after the break but his attempt went wide. St Patrick went on all-out attack in search for the equalizer and in the 70th minute, James Scicluna incredibly missed a sitter with his attempt going wide. Zabbar kept on pressing and ten minutes from time, a towering header by David Oliveira sailed just inches over the bar.  A couple of minutes later Zabbar, deservingly equalised through a tap in by Scicluna after a shot from outside the box by Ariel Gambarte was partially saved by custodian Gozef Mizzi. Andrey Nakov could have won the match for Zabbar at the death but the unmarked substitute’s attempt sailed over the bar from an ideal angle.

Pieta’ Hotspurs 1-1 Marsa
Pieta's hopes of keeping the pace with the top two teams Melita and Zabbar suffered a blow on Saturday evening, when they were held to a one all draw by a plucky Marsa side. Things could have been worse for the Hotspurs as they were at the wrong end of the score by the end of the first half, but the team of coach Manuel Caruana managed to earn a point with an equaliser in the second half.
Pieta’ were the first to have a shot on target when after just nine minutes of play, Kian Leonardi's shot from the edge of the box skimmed the crossbar. However, Marsa opened the lead in the 15th minute in an action that started from a corner. Stand-in goalkeeper Jake Farrugia blocked Gianluca Bugeja's first attempt, but from the rebound, Augusto Caseres tapped the ball home. Pieta came close to equalising four minutes before the break with a Briffa strike, but excellent Marsa custodian Christopher Farrugia converted into a corner.
The Hotspurs scored the equaliser shortly before the hour mark with a magnificent shot by Kurt Briffa from a considerable distance, which was impossible for goalkeeper Farrugia to block.

Zurrieq 1-1 Senglea Athletic
A third one-all draw was recorded between Zurrieq and Senglea, also on Saturday afternoon, with the former stepping from the pitch the happier side with Chris Baker scoring a late equaliser for the team of Saviour Debono-Grech, their first point obtained in the Top Six competition. Senglea therefore missed a great opportunity to reduce the gap with the two league leaders against a well-organized Zurrieq team. To note also the curious fact that the Vella brothers, Emerson for Zurrieq and Terence with Senglea, played against each other in this encounter.
First shot on target resulted in the opening score for the Cottonera side as a well-timed corner by Terence Vella was headed home by Daniel Zerafa. Senglea controlled the match but did not insist too much with the match going down a gear.
In the second half Zurrieq were much more in the game and perhaps even the better side. After numerous shots on target, Baker knocked in the equalizer from a close-range shot following a good cross by Kyle Azzopardi. A most welcome point for Zurrieq who finally got off-mark.