General Category

Zabbar St Patrick and Msida St Joseph new group leaders

Published: Thu 24 Nov 2022, 12:33
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IZIBET AMATEUR LEAGUE REVIEW

GROUP A
Zabbar St Patrick 2-0 Birzebbuga St Peter’s
Mark Miller’s Zabbar continued their impressive winning run to make it eight league wins from eight games with a 2-0 win against Birzebbuga St Peter’s. Zabbar were far better than the Blues in the first half and were unlucky to go into the break with only a one goal advantage. Andre Joe Cutajar opened the score line for Zabbar in the 23rd minute when he fired a volley emphatically into the top right corner, his ninth league goal of the season. Three minutes later, Zabbar were inches away from doubling their lead when Kenneth Aquilina crossed into the box which found David Oliveira who’s header hit the post. One of the few chances for Birzebbuga arrived on the half hour mark when Keith Muscat’s freekick was well paraded by Zabbar custodian Jonathan Grech.
When compared to the first half, the second half offered very few chances for both sides. However, Zabbar still managed to add to their lead in the 73rd minute. The goal arrived when Ristan Schembri came out of his box to clear a Zabbar  throughball that was intended for David Oliveira. However, the poor clearance ended up in the path of Nick Borg who scored from long range. In the third minute of injury time, Zabbar could have added one more but Shalon Diacono’s penalty was saved by Schembri.

Senglea Athletic 0-1 Qormi
The biggest upset of the weekend in the Amateur League was done by Qormi, who unexpectedly beat high flyers Senglea Athletic, who suffered their first league defeat of the season It was a very different side who were erratic in their style of play with Qormi taking advantage of some defensive frailties as well as keeping their composure throughout the game.
On 24 minutes, Qormi scored what proved to be the winning goal. It was Alexander Nilsson whose first timer surprised Senglea goalkeeper Carmelo Caruana to slot home.
The second half was characterized by Senglea hitting the woodwork twice, both through Colombian livewire Sebastian Perdomo. Tempers flared towards the end of stoppage time with the referee sending off Senglea’s Aidan Azzopardi and Qormi substitute Nigel Borg for unsporting behaviours.
With these three points, Qormi are back in the fray for a possible Play-Off spot, trailing Birzebbuga with one point and Kalkara by two. However, the last two mentioned have a game in hand.

Mgarr United 2-0 Mellieha
This was a heated derby with Mgarr edging neighbours Mellieha by two goals and both teams finishing the match with ten players. Throughout the match, not for the first time this season, Mgarr striking duo Christian Saint Ebisindor and Saturday Nanapere created all sorts of trouble in the opponent’s half.
After eight minutes play, Mgarr’s Dale Mifsud tried his luck from long range but his effort was saved comfortably by Blues custodian Tyrone Gauci. Quarter of an hour in, a pass by Nanapere was met by Jurgen Grech who’s shot sailed high. Four minutes later, Mgarr’s Gordon Saliba hit the crossbar, with the rebound being saved by Gauci. Mgarr continued to press for an opener and in the 34th minute, a header by Nanapere was again saved well by Gauci, who kept his team into the match at this stage. Three minutes from half time, Nanapere sent Saint Ebisindor through, who dribbled past the keeper and scored.
Four minutes from the start of the second half, Gordon Saliba failed to reach target for Mgarr. There was a mass confrontation on 74 minutes between both sets of players, with Mgarr’s Ryan Dalli being identified as the main culprit, receiving a straight red. Mellieha captain Jacob Farrugia received a yellow card after this ugly incident, his second of the match and therefore followed Dalli for an early shower. Mellieha was close to equalising on 84 minutes but Wayne Chetcuti’s shot was saved well by Mgarr shotstopper Jacob Chircop-St John, who also denied Alexander Akl’s header on the brink of full-time. However, deep into stoppage time, with Mellieha throwing all on attack, Nanapere rounded off a swift counter-attack to seal the win for Mgarr.

Kalkara United 1-1 Santa Venera Lightnings
For a long time it looked like a Matthias Vella first half goal was enough to give Santa Venera a precious three points last Friday night but deep into stoppage time, captain Andrea Hammett headed Kalkara deservedly next to the Lightnings. The depleted Greens were clearly showing the affects from the extra time FA Trophy match against Tarxien Rainbows two days earlier, as most of their players clearly lacked the cutting edge which is needed to win matches.
In the first twenty minutes, Santa Venera came close to break the deadlock on three occasions, with Kyle Schembri heading against the crossbar, followed by to off-target attempts by Sean Ellul and Yuya Emura.
After Nathan Attard shot high from the edge of the box on the other side, Lightnings’ livewire Emura nearly profited of some hesitance in the Kalkara defence on 32 minutes but somehow failed to score. But three minutes later, Gordon Camilleri’s men deservedly took the lead thanks to the lanky Vella who tapped home a neat Santa Venera attack from close-range. Two minutes before the half-time whistle, Clyde Aquilina turned an on target attempt by Kyle Azzopardi into a corner, which was Kalkara’s best opportunity before the break.
Kalkara stepped on the accelerator in the second half and on 53 minutes, Hammett blasted high from close-range after a free-kick action. Just after the hour, Fabrizio Zammit wasted another goal scoring opportunity for Kalkara with Aquilina saving once more and on 64 minutes, Aquilina did again well to block a close-range effort from Attard. Two minutes later on the other side, Emura was sent through and was brough down on the edge of the area by Cedric Zahra, who received a straight red. Two minutes into stoppage time, Ryan Cauchi hit the post and there was more drama as Hammett headed the equaliser from an Ayoub free-kick at the very last kick of the match.

Pembroke Athleta 6-2 Ta’ Xbiex
Also on Friday night, Pembroke recorded their second win of the season, beating a below-par Ta’ Xbiex with the score 6-2. It proved to be the last match of coach Renald Bugeja, who agreed to be relieved from his duties at Ta’ Xbiex on mutual consent yesterday night. On eight minutes, Ta’ Xbiex took the lead thanks to the unmarked Shamison Farrugia, who beat young Athleta goalkeeper Brylan Tabone with an accurate grounder. Pembroke equalised on 16 minutes thanks to Weverton, who headed home from a corner action and six minutes later, the team of Vince Carbonaro took the lead thanks to an unfortunate own goal by Ta’ Xbiex defender Nicky Vella. Just after the half hour mark, Gareth Buttigieg added a third for Pembroke, beating Matthew Schembri from close range after another accurate Weverton cross.
Four minutes after the re-start, Weverton scored his second with a grounder after being sent through in the middle and on 50 minutes, there was nothing Schembri could do to stop a shot by Xylon Marmara, who put Pembroke 5-1 up. The Reds were now all over Ta’ Xbiex and four minutes later, Buttigieg missed a sitter from close-range with practically an empty net in front of him. On 74 minutes, Ta’ Xbiex substitute Matthew Fenech hit the post from close-range. With four minutes regular time left, the same Fenech reduced the deficit for Ta’ Xbiex. But on the stroke of full-time, Matt Brimmer scored Pembroke’s sixth and final goal.

GROUP B
Msida St Joseph 3-0 Dingli Swallows
With St George’s and Gharghur dropping points, Msida St Joseph took full advantage, regaining the lead in Group B of this competition, beating a battling Dingli side with the score 3-0. Veteran striker Jean-Pierre Mifsud Triganza was the big man with the Msida team, scoring two goals on his 41st birthday.
It was Mifsud Triganza himself who opened the score on 12 minutes for Msida, beating Adam Benjelloun with a fierce grounder. Close to the half hour mark, Msida doubled thanks to Romeu Romao, unmarked at the far corner rounding off a corner action. Three minutes later, Benjelloun made two great saves in quick succession on Giovanni Galea, who should have scored the third for Msida from a quick Mifsud Trigana corner.
Dingli’s best chance arrived just after the break when Aleksandar Kovacevic curled his shot out of reach of Clive Caruana, missing target by an inch. But on 63 minutes, Mifsud Triganza took advantage of a Dingli defensive error, rounding off into an empty net. Benjelloun displayed another great safe on Mifsud Triganza on 86 minutes, turning his attempt into a corner.

St George’s 2-2 Siggiewi
Elsewhere on Sunday, St George's and Siggiewi shared the spoils in an exciting 2-2 scoreline. It was a match divided into two parts with the Cottonera side dominating the first half but with Siggiewi administrating most of the second half, managing a come back from 2-0 behind.
St George's, with Kurt Magro, Alexander Cauchi and Mario Arrieta missing, surged ahead through a penalty scored by Morientes Muscat on 21 minutes. Siggiewi were confused and the Blues doubled the score, again trhough Morientes Muscat, who received from the right and made no mistake in front of the goalkeeper. It was Muscat’s ninth goal of the season and is therefore leading the Top Scorers list in this Group.
In the second half, Siggiewi coach Alex Delia made four substitutions and this move paid dividends as they scored two quickfire goals. First it was Ryan Muscat whose header surprised Matthew Camilleri six minutes after the re-start. Colombian striker Ronaldo Begambre then anticipated the defenders just after the hour, to slot home the equaliser. Both sides tried to get the most important goals but neither defence was in the mood to concede more favours.

Gharghur 1-2 Luqa St Andrew’s
Edmond Luifi’s Luqa St Andrew's came from behind to beat Gharghur by the odd goal in three thanks to a goal three minutes in added time.  A shock defeat for Gharghur, who are now on equal points with Luqa on rank four in the standings.
Luqa held the initiative in the early stages, going close with a Sam Kind effort which was neutralised by Andrew Zammit after just seven minutes. Six minutes later on the other side, a Robert Ciantar effort from outside the area ended just wide. Gharghur soon gained more confidence and started to dictate the game. Erik Pietribiasi missed a good opportunity on 22 minutes off a Jamie Delia freekick, blasting high from close range.  However, the Italian forward managed to open the score four minutes from the end of the first half with a direct freekick which gave Brandon Bartolo no chance. Three minutes later, Pietribiasi could have added another but his low shot was parried by the Luqa goalkeeper. In stoppage time of the first half, Ryan Schembri had a shot from outside the area for the Saints which was turned into a corner by the Gharghur goalkeeper.
On 64 minutes, Bartolo performed a good save on a Jayden Aquilina corner and in a swift counter-attack, Luqa equalised. The ball reached Kind on the right flank who advanced before beating Zammit with a powerful shot from a close angle. In the dying minutes, Luqa increased the pressure and six minutes from time, a long-distance effort by Schembri was again parried by the Gharghur custodian. Three minutes in added time, Luqa notched a dramatic winner thanks to substitute Luke Dalli, who entered the pitch only a few minutes before.  

Ghaxaq 0-3 Rabat Ajax
Last Saturday afternoon, the Magpies returned to winning ways with a 3-0 win against Ghaxaq. It was the fourth consecutive defeat for Rennie Zahra’s men, who slowly slide down the table after a good start of the season.
In the first half, Rabat dominated but also Ghaxaq managed to pose a threat at particular moments during the game. In fact, in the 23rd minute Gaynor D’Amato’s half volley attempt flew just over the bar. Two minutes later, Rabat goalkeeper Dean Sciberras made a good save from a freekick, tipping the ball over the bar. However, it was Rabat who opened the scoring when Zachary Tanti intelligently sent Ian Caruana through, beating his direct marker and Ghaxaq goalkeeper Leon Seisun. Just before the break, Andy Paul Camilleri had a chance to double Rabat’s lead but his long-range effort went just over the bar.
Seven minutes into the second half, in the 52nd minute, Nobukatsu Tsuchiya’s shot from just inside the box stung the gloves of Seisun. Then, in the 62nd minute, Ryden Gatt came close to score the equaliser with a shot aimed towards the bottom left which went just wide. Four minutes later, Rabat made good use of Tsuchiya’s blistering speed. The Japanese winger received the ball on the left side, skipped past three players with pace and cut the ball to Ian Caruana who finished it off, collecting a rare brace. In the 69th minute on the other side, D’Amato once again saw his powerful shot go just over the bar. Rabat controlled comfortably in the remaining time left and in the 89th minute, even managed to add a third when Kurt Agius combined well with Randon Caruana, finishing off low to give Rabat another three precious points.

Kirkop United 2-1 Mdina Knights
This match was a memorable one as for the first time in just over twenty years, a senior MFA match was controlled by three female referees; Jo Anna Vassallo and assistants Stefania Bonnici and Paula Buttigieg. They had a busy afternoon as apart from two sending offs, the ambulance had to be called in to check Kirkop defender Melchior Grech, who had to leave the pitch with a concussion after an unfortunate clashing of heads.
On 28 minutes, Jean-Claude Annati came close to break the deadlock for Msida, but the ex-Santa Lucia forward missed target from an ideal angle. Three minutes later, Kirkop took the lead thanks to Lincoln Micallef, who scored from close-range, taking advantage from a misunderstanding between goalkeeper Matthew Towns and Mark Deguara.
Three minutes into the second half, Kirkop had to continue with ten when Quelin Micallef was shown his second yellow card of the afternoon for a foul on Matthew Axisa. Just after the hour, Kirkop doubled thanks to a 20-meters distance shot  by Giorgio Bellia, which gave Towns no chance to save. Mdina were also reduced to ten when, two minutes after Bellia’s goal, Annati fouled Kirkop’s Neil Friggieri in midfield, receiving a straight red. On 80 minutes, Mdina were back in the game thanks to an Axisa strike from the edge of the box. The Knights pushed hard for an equaliser and with three minutes regular time left, Axisa could have added a second but blasted high from an ideal position.

Images copyright Joe Borg