Msida seal promotion with masterclass against MdinaPublished: Thu 16 Mar 2023, 14:37
IZIBET NATIONAL AMATEUR LEAGUE REVIEW
Qormi 0-2 Senglea Athletic
Senglea Athletic are another step closer to their ultimate goal as they saw off Qormi on Sunday afternoon with the score 2-0, already their tenth consecutive league victory. It wasn’t an easy match for the Cottonera outfit as they played against a solid team, although Qormi had to play for the entire second half with a man less after Miguel Galea was sent off just after the break. Despite all this, it was remarkably one of Qormi’s best performances this season.
The first half was a drab affair as Senglea dominated most of the possession, with Qormi managing mostly on counter attacks through their Swedish player Alexander Nillson. In stoppage time of the first half, Qormi had to swallow their first setback as regular goalkeeper Miguel Falzon needed to be replaced by young Yan Galea after suffering a concussion. Four minutes after the restart, Miguel Galea was sent off for Qormi for serious foul play, a reckless tackle which really disrupted the tactical plans of coach Lydon Fenech as not much later, Edgar Degabriele’s troops surged ahead through Keith Vella who took advantage of a rebound to slot home. The Yellow/Blacks seemed confused and on 79 minutes they had to succumb again as super-sub Aidan Azzopardi’s grounder surprised Yan Galea. This win helped Senglea keep the five-point lead over Zabbar St Patrick, although having played a game more than their opponents. Both clubs will meet in the top of the table clash on Saturday. A Senglea victory, or a draw, will seal their promotion to the Challenge League after a one-year absence.
Birzebbuga St Peter’s 0-2 Zabbar St Patrick
Like main contenders Senglea, St Patrick made no mistake last weekend, beating Birzebbugas St Peter’s with two first half goals. It was their sixth consecutive win in the league and therefore making sure that they keep the pressure on Senglea before the big match this Saturday. It’s a different story for Birzebbuga, as the Blues slummed into their third consecutive defeat, with their Play-Off participation now seriously at risk with Kalkara and Xghajra luring.
Zabbar, without influential striker Andre-Joe Cutajar, went ahead after just six minutes when Samuel Buhagiar concluded from close range to beat St Peter’s goalkeeper Ristan Schembri. The Saints doubled on 22 minutes when Kenneth Aquilina had the simplest of tap ins into an empty net, rounding off another constructive Zabbar attack.
St Patrick started the second half strongly and could have made it three just before the hour when Clayton Camilleri shot over the bar from just outside the goal area. Minutes later Kurt Borg shot just wide from a good position. On 61 minutes, an incredible melee ensued in front of Schembri but somehow neither Zabbar player could poke the ball into the net. With the Zabbar defence standing strong, Birzebbuga could not offer much offensively. They now face Mgarr United, who themselves need a win to keep their direct promotion chances alive.
Mellieha 0-4 Mgarr United
There was no doubt who was the better team last Sunday afternoon with Mgarr United winning the Northern derby with a 4-0 final score. Although Mellieha had their moments, it was obvious from the start who was the better team on the field of play. Like Senglea and Zabbar, also Mgarr go through a brilliant period by winning their last seven league matches.
Jason Camenzuli’s side took the lead on seven minutes thanks to fantastic Christian Saint Ebisindor goal, who presented the crowd with a wonderful overhead kick from the edge of the box, a picture goal. The Greens doubled on 23 minutes through Jurgen Grech, who rounded off from close-range after again some good work of Saint Ebisindor, who was simply unstoppable in this match. Four minutes before the half-time whistle, Mgarr added their third with Grech serving Saint Ebisindor in the box, who outpaced his direct marker and the goalkeeper, hitting low into the empty net.
Mellieha could have pulled one back on 62 minutes but Aaron Mizzi missed target from close-range. Ten minutes later on the other side, Julian Camilleri missed a sitter, blasting high from close-in. The last goal arrived on 83 minutes, a well-played out counter-attack between Saint Ebisindor, Leejoe Schembri and Jamie-Lee Micallef, with the latter rounding off with a low shot.
Santa Venera Lightnings 1-3 Kalkara United
On Saturday afternoon, Kalkara beat Santa Venera to overtake Birzebbuga in the standings on rank four. With Kalkara the better team but Santa Venera never outplayed, this match was a joy to watch for the neutral spectator.
Kalkara took an early sixth minute lead through Jean-Paul Formosa from close-range, after Dylan Micallef did all the hard work on the left flank. Kalkara dictated play but the Lightnings were dangerous on the counter-attack with Kyle Schembri’s cross-shot from the right ending on the top of the crossbar on the half hour mark. It was therefore no surprise that Santa Venera equalised, with Yuya Emura scoring an opportunistic goal on 35 minutes, in an action which goalkeeper Mario Bartolo could have done better. Five minutes later, Emura could have put the Lightnings even 2-1 up but this time Bartolo blocked his effort with a fine save. In the attack what followed on the other side, Luke Farrugia volleyed brilliantly home from the edge of the box to send Kalkara with a 2-1 advantage into the dressing rooms.
Kalkara kept on dominating proceedings after lemon time with Formosa bringing the best out of Lightnings goalkeeper Clyde Aquilina on 57 minutes. Moments later, a Calvin Camilleri shot from the edge of the box was turned into a corner by Aquilina. But with Kalkara failing to score, they kept Santa Venera in the match, who had a good spell towards the end of the game with Bartolo tipping a long distance shot by Fabio Attard into a corner on 78 minutes. However, two minutes before the end of regular time, Kalkara were awarded a penalty for a handsball incident in the Santa Venera box. Formosa drilled home the 3-1 to the relieve of the Kalkara faithful.
Ta’ Xbiex 0-4 Pembroke Athleta
In the lower parts of the table, Pembroke beat Ta’Xbiex 4-0 with all goals arriving after the break. Not for the first time this season, Brazilian playmaker Weverton Gomes was the big man on the on the side of Pembroke scoring a hattrick, bringing his season totals on 13 in the league.
The first half was a forgettable affair with no real goalscoring action although Pembroke seemed the more enterprising side.
Vince Carbonaro’s team deservedly took the lead on 53 minutes with a fine move that saw Nicholas Camilleri release Weverton who cooly slotted past Matthew Schembri into the net. Ta’ Xbiex ended up with ten men immediately after as Daniel Sammut received his marching orders after an off the ball incident. Pembroke doubled on 63 minutes with Weverton again making space in the box and rifling a low shot into the corner of the net. Five minutes later it was 3-0 with Isaac Schembri shooting past a hapless Schembri with Ta’ Xbiex truly down and out. The fourth and final goal arrived on 75 minutes through Weverton who therefore accomplished his hat trick.
Msida St Joseph 12-0 Mdina Knights
After an absence of eight years, Msida St Joseph are back in the second tier of Maltese football, a much deserved promotion as, after an initial tight affair with Rabat, Luqa and Gharghur, they came out as the best team of the lot. The team celebrated the occasion with the biggest ever league win for the club in their 117-year-old history, which was also the largest ever score in the National Amateur League.
The Saints were on fire from the start and took the lead on twelve minutes when Edward Bugeja connected from close range to slam the ball into the net to the delight of the Msida support. Neville Galea’s side doubled on 20 minutes when veteran Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza received from the left by Warren Zerafa and slammed home. The match was over as a contest three minutes later when Giovanni Galea had the easiest of tap ins to make it 3-0 . Mifsud Triganza made it 4-0 with a lovely lob from 30 yards to continue adding the goals and the Msida support partied on. Mifsud Triganza notched his hattrick on 32 minutes and Msida’s fifth after slotting in from a fine cross by Romeu Romao. The sixth goal arrived on 37 minutes when Galea notched his brace as the score reached tennistic proportions. Mifsud Triganza notched his poker on 41 minutes with another simple tap in after again some great work by Galea, while the latter notched his hat trick and Msida’s eighth just before half time.
The ninth goal came on 67 minutes with Mifsud Triganza scoring his fifth from another Galea assist. The tenth goal and double figures were reached through a fine free-kick by substitute Jason Camilleri, whilst the eleventh came courtesy of Mifsud Triganza’s half dozen. On 81 minutes, Galea crossed to substitute Misael Tabone who cooly slotted home Msida twelfth goal. An emphatic win for Msida, but more misery for rock bottom Mdina who, sitting rock bottom with only six points to show, are close to end one of their worst seasons ever in their short existence.
Kirkop United 1-2 Rabat Ajax
Also on Friday night, Rabat Ajax came from behind to beat Kirkop United by the odd goal in three in dramatic fashion to make sure of staying second in the table. An extremely important three points in the race for promotion with Gharghur and Luqa.
The Magpies held the initiative in the early stages but Kirkop goalkeeper Jonathan Mallia performed a good save on Nobukatsu Tsuchiya on four minutes and Ian Caruana six minutes later. Kirkop replied with a Lincoln Micallef freekick ending high on 14 minutes. Zachary Tanti hit the crossbar with a freekick on 26 minutes but Kirkop had a Micallef effort deflected into a corner one minute later and eight minutes from the end of the first half, Rabat goalkeeper Dean Sciberras turned into a corner a Roderick Attard effort.
Early in the second half, two long-distance efforts by Andy Paul Camilleri saw the first being saved by the goalkeeper and the other ending just over the bar. Kirkop, however, took the lead on 52 minutes. Micallef concluded a good run on the right with a diagonal shot which beat Sciberras. Kirkop gained confidence and went close with an Attard freekick which was saved by Sciberras and with a diagonal shot by Isaac Abela which was parried by the Rabat goalkeeper. Rabat went close with a Jake Cordina corner on 70 minutes and six minutes later, off another Cordina corner, Immy Micallef headed just wide,
The Magpies finally equalised on 81 minutes when off a Jake Cordina Cordina, Immy Micallef slotted the ball past Mallia. The goalkeeper was sent off in the same action for hitting a Rabat player. Two minutes in added time, Rabat notched the winner. It was a great freekick by Jake Cordina from the right which surprised substitute goalkeeper Clayton Rapa.
Gharghur 3-1 Siggiewi
After going close to gain promotion last season, Gharghur are again in the running for the honours this season and confirmed their progress with a neat victory over Siggiewi last Saturday afternoon. Striker Erik Pietribiasi scored a brace to bring his season totals on 16 league goals, one ahead of Msida’s Mifsud Triganza.
Gharghur started strongly and were ahead on twelve minutes thanks to Pietribiasi, with the lanky Italian connecting well from a cross down the right. Three minutes later, the team of coach Kevin Borg-Degiorgio doubled with Jayden Aquilina stabbing home from close range. Siggiewi attempted to come back in the rest of the first half but Gharghur controlled well.
The match was over as a contest two minutes into the second half when Gharghur won a penalty through Pietribiasi, who was fouled in the box. Pietribiasi stepped up himself and made no mistake from the spot to make it 3-0. Tyrone Grech reduced the deficit for Siggiewi on 72 minutes with a well taken goal. Pietribiasi also came close to making it 4-1 on 74 minutes, but his lob went just wide. A much-deserved victory for Gharghur who now will face Luqa on Sunday in a direct encounter which might settle some promotion issues.
Ghaxaq 1-1 Luqa St Andrew’s
Edmond Lufi’s Luqa lost an important two points in their race for promotion against Ghaxaq, who needed the three points themselves to have an outside chance for Play-Off participation. Therefore, the draw did not favor any team.
The opening half hour passed slowly with Luqa clearly finding it hard to penetrate the solid Ghaxaq rear-guard. Ghaxaq had a fine chance on 26 minutes when Shamizen Buhagiar entered the box, but his effort went well over the bar. But it was Luqa who took the lead on 31 minutes when Alan Abdelrahman rifled a fine effort past Leon Seisun. Ghaxaq reacted well and managed to equalize on 42 minutes from the penalty spot. Gaynor Damato was adjudged to have been fouled in the box by Leon Theuma with the referee pointing to the spot. Dusan Petrovic made no mistake with a low shot past Damian Borg.
After the re-start, Luqa were unlucky not to take the lead on 55 minutes when Abdulrahman’s header hit the woodwork. Luqa kept the upper-hand until the very end but failed to score the much needed second goal.
St George’s 2-0 Dingli Swallows
Without setting any houses on fire, the Pioneers recorded a clinical victory over lowly Dingli last Saturday afternoon, which enabled them to rise to the fifth spot. They share this rank with Kirkop, who play Dingli and Mdina in their last two outings, while St George’s upcoming opponents are Siggiewi and Gharghur. Therefore, Kirkop has the better cards to finish fifth, a final placing which will grant the team a place in the 1st round of the Promotion Play-Offs.
St George’s started well with Matthias Ablett and Nestor Canas missing two sitters during the first ten minutes of the match. The encounter squared out after the opening phase, with the Swallows gradually getting more into the picture. However, on the half hour mark, Dingli received a setback when Jeremy Azzopardi unluckily kicked the ball in his own net in an attempt to clear the ball. On 38 minutes, Rudy Cassar-Jeffries doubled from close-range after the Dingli defence failed to clear the ball during another attack of the Blues.
With St George’s clearly putting their foot from the accelerator, Dingli came more in the picture after the break. On 57 minutes, Mohamed Kara and captain Matthew Pace combined well into the St George’s box but the latter’s grounder was off-target. Ten minutes later, Kara’s free-kick from just outside the area skimmed the post. With ten minutes regular time left, Morientes Muscat had his shot well-saved by Adam Benjelloun, the Swallows goalkeeper. Substitute Lucas Barcik could have added a third for the Cospicuans as well, but his attempt deep into stoppage time sailed inches over the crossbar.
Images copyright Charisse Agius