Four clubs on maximum points in Amateur League
Gharghur are the surprise pack of the Amateur League season so far, winning also their third league game, having the better of Siggiewi in a one-sided match at the Luxol Stadium on Saturday. The team of coach Kevin Borg-Degiorgio were the dominant team throughout this match and their 2-0 win was fully deserved. They opened the score in the 22nd minute, when a cross into the box reached the nippy Warren Zerafa, who controlled well, beating Ryan Micallef by placing the ball at the other end of the post. Also in the second half there was no doubt who was the better team, with Gharghur continuing on attack, creating several chances. The Siggiewi defence clearly could not cope with the pressure and on 65 minutes, a Gabriel Buttigieg clearance ended up in his own net, doubling the score for Gharghur. Another great result for Gharghur, who have the maximum nine points out of three and have not conceded a goal yet this season.
Like Gharghur, Kalkara also made it three wins from three with a hard fought 2-1 win over an improved Dingli Swallows side. The first half of the game was controlled by Kalkara in terms of chances created. In the first 25 minutes of the game, Kalkara’s livewire Mohamed Ayoub had two chances to open the scoring but failed to do so. In the 35th minute Dingli’s Domenico Marsala conceded a penalty, but Ayoub failed to convert from the spot, hitting the crossbar. On the verge of half-time Kalkara failed once again to take the lead when Miguel Micallef missed target from the rebound after Ayoub’s shot was blocked by goalkeeper Darryl Vella. In the first minute of the second half, it was Ayoub who finally opened the score with a tap in after a cross from the right hand side of the pitch, delivered perfectly to him. However, Dingli did not take long to equalise as in the 48th minute Kalkara’s Liam Ciantar misjudged a long ball which enabled Dingli’s Melchior Tonna to score from close range. As it appeared that both teams would have to settle for a point each, in the 88th minute, a Kalkara attack ended up on the path of captain Andrea Hammett, who volleyed the ball beautifully into the bottom left corner to extend his team’s run of wins in the league.
Daniel Agius’s Attard FC also won their third match of the league by beating Birzebbuga St Peter’s 3-0 at the Luxol Stadium on Sunday. With three identical 3-0 scores in their opening three matches, they have now wiped out their 9-point deduction totally and in this shape, they will be a hard nut to crack for any team in this group. They went off for a flying start as after only two minutes play, Jake Micallef scored a wonderful goal with a shot from the right wing. On 20 minutes, young Lydon Cuschieri was sent through, running out goalkeeper Leighton Mifsud, doubling the score. The Blues came gradually more into the match and had some shots towards goal via Ryan Micallef and Alan Tabone, the last one hitting the crossbar on 36 minutes. Cuschieri could have added a third before the half-time whistle, but his attempt on 43 minutes was blocked by Mifsud. In the 52nd minute, Sam Kind missed a sitter from close range, prohibiting to bring his team back into the match. On 75 minutes, substitute Michael Ciappara missed another golden opportunity for St Peter’s to score but his attempt missed the power to surprise Zach Valletta, the Attard goalkeeper. Two minutes later it was match over however, when Nicholas Schembri was sent through, beating his direct marker and hitting low past Mifsud to make it 3-0 for Attard.
Xghajra got of mark with their first win of the season, a thumping 7-2 win over Ta’ Xbiex with three goals from Italian forward Erik Pietribiasi. It was Ta’ Xbiex who scored the first of nine goals after only four minutes, thanks to Jurgen Sciriha who skipped past two players in the box before finishing in the bottom left corner. This was a wake-up call for Xghajra, as after this goal, the team of Richard Mercieca started to press higher up and move the ball quicker. The Tornados equalised in the 26th minute when Pietribiasi passed towards the unmarked Glenn Brincat, beating goalkeeper Cliff Aquilina with a nice chip. Two minutes before half time Xghajra managed to take the lead when Brincat returned the favour and assisted Pietribiasi to score his second of the afternoon. Three minutes after the break, a short corner found Gaynor D’Amato, who sent a low cross into the box which was met at the far post by Xghajra defender Deemer Cutajar. Ta’ Xbiex reduced the deficit in the 61st minute with a penalty taken by Andrew Xuereb, given after a foul by Xghajra goalkeeper Luke Attard. Brincat restored Xghajra’s two goal advantage in the 71st minute, obtaining a brace. Eleven minutes later, Neil Darmanin scored his side’s fifth with a tap in in the 82nd minute. Pietribiasi had the last say in this festival of goals with two goals in the last five minutes of the game.
Msida left it late on Sunday morning to score the goals that mattered, but fully deserved the three points in a one-sided match at the Centenary Stadium. The Reds had a big opportunity to open the score on 24 minutes. A Shamison Farrugia free-kick from the right was met by Abdullahi Busari, who’s attempt ended up on the post. From the rebound, Justin Zammit’s attempt finished wide. Against the run of play, in the 42nd minute, Ghaxaq took the lead with practically their first shot at goal. Ian Calleja was sent through in the middle, beating his direct marker and goalkeeper Justin Tonna with an angled shot. Msida escaped in the second minute after the break when Calleja was sent through once more, but the nippy winger failed to score from an ideal position. On the hour, a low 20-meters distance attempt by Msida substitute Matthias Vella, just missed target. Four minutes later, Vella missed target after another well built-up attack from the back from the Reds. On the other side on 68 minutes, a well-taken Rio Micallef free-kick was brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Tonna. Three minutes later, Ghaxaq custodian Christian Schembri did well to turn a deflected cross from Gianluca Tanti into a corner. A Mark Camilleri attempt from just outside the box in 74 minutes sailed inches over the crossbar. With four minutes left to play, Msida finally found the net thanks to Matthias Vella, finishing off an accurate cross from the right winger Carl Abela. Two minutes into added time, a Busari header just missed target but deep into stoppage time, the Nigerian scored the winner from close range, a much-deserved win for Msida.
Zabbar St Patrick gained their third win of the campaign with a 2-0 win over Mdina Knights, retaining first place in this group. It was a hard-earned win for the star-studded Zabbar side as the Knights initially created more goalscoring opportunities. Daniel Cilia kept the Zabbar rear-guard on their toes, with efforts in the fourth and 33rd minute, who both just went wide. However, during the second half, Mdina were forced to defend deeply into their own half, which led to Zabbar having most of the possession. The pressure that Zabbar put on Mdina led to an own goal by Clyde Borg which broke the deadlock of the game in the 48th minute. In the 58th minute, Miguel Ciantar could have doubled but Mdina goalkeeper Wallaca Galea saved. Two minutes later however, Zabbar managed to double their lead. This time it was a well worked out move between, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza and Terence Agius, with the latter scoring with a well-placed shot into the bottom right corner. Zabbar kept on dominating and could have added a few more eventually, but their win was never in doubt, much to the liking of their numerous supporters.
Marsaskala also kept their 100% record, thanks to a high intensity win against Mtarfa. Both teams created plenty of chances, but both defences kept concentration and did well to deal with the attacks coming their way. It was at times a tensed encounter, resulting into a number of fouls and yellow cards shown. Eight minutes after the restart, Eman Camilleri was shown a second yellow card and his marching orders, leaving Marsaskala down to ten men and a mountain to climb. But Brian Vella’s team showed character and kept on pushing to score. Their courage was rewarded in the 78th minute, as from a cross in the penalty box, Adrian Carabott was in the right place to score the only goal of the match. A great win for Marsaskala, who mean business this season with a wonderful group of players.
Zurrieq obtained their second win of the campaign with a 2-0 win against a stubborn Santa Venera side. Zurrieq were the dominating side and opened the score in the 28th minute thanks to Andre Joe Cutajar, who scored a goal that went in via the inside of the post off the rebound. George Magri’s team had two chances to double their lead after both veteran strikers Giovanni Galea and Timmy Thomas hit the woodwork in the 31st and the 44th minute respectively. Zurrieq were unlucky to go into the break with only a one goal advantage. Santa Venera lacked shape in their attacks, which was a very similar story in the second half as well. However, it was only in the second minute of stoppage that Zurrieq managed to make sure of the win, doubling the score with a goal coming from veteran defender Mauro Bonnici, who beat Sta Venera goalkeeper Dean Sciberras from close-range after an assist from Luca Bugeja.
Mellieha beat a below par Kirkop United side 2-0 in a match which never reached any highs last Sunday. The first half was a balanced affair, with little goalmouth action. On the side of Mellieha, Paul Ellul and Stefan Vasilevski had attempts on goal, which did not bother veteran goalkeeper Matthew Xerxen much, while on the other side, there was a 20-meters distance free-kick from Ayrton Buhagiar, straight into the arms of James Abela, the experienced Mellieha goalkeeper. On the stroke of half-time, Simone Lo Presti’s attempt from close range was turned into a corner by Abela. After the break, Kirkop saw definitely more of the ball but missed the final pass, which kept the Blues into the match. Mellieha were dangerous on the counter-attack and just after the hour, Jonathan Cutajar wasted an opportunity from a free-kick action, picking up a loose ball with his shot from the edge of the box missing direction, sailing high over the crossbar. On 68 minutes, a Wayne Chetcuti attempt hit the post which could have been Mellieha’s opener. With 17 minutes left on the clock, Matthew Borg went close to score Kirkop’s opener with a shot which was turned into a corner by Abela. Barely a minute later, substitute Michael Theuma should have done better from the edge of the box but his shot missed target. Vasilevski stretched Xerxen into the corner with another Mellieha goal scoring opportunity on 75 minutes. Mellieha’s first goal arrived on 76 minutes, thanks to Andie Sammut’s header, who entered as a sub just three minutes before, after an accurate Vasilevski cross. Four minutes after, Mark Vassallo’s header missed the right direction for Kirkop’s equaliser after an accurate Borg free-kick from the right. With three minutes regular time left to play, Vasilevski rounded off Mellieha’s perfect evening with hitting his team’s second goal pass a helpless Xerxen.
Images copyright Stephen Gatt