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NEWS:
Marsa and Pembroke drop points, Żebbuġ win derby
Mar 9, 2021
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BOV Challenge League
(c) Stephen Gatt
(c) Stephen Gatt

  • (c) Stephen Gatt
  • (c) Stephen Gatt
  • (c) Stephen Gatt
  • (c) Stephen Gatt

League leaders Marsa and second placed Pembroke were held to a draw by San Ġwann and Qrendi respectively last weekend, with Żebbuġ recording their largest ever derby win over Qormi. Furthermore, there were important wins by St Andrews, Vittoriosa Stars and Mqabba.


San Ġwann 4 Marsa 4

The match of the weekend in the NCL was the game between Marsa and San Ġwann, who shared eight goals in a highly spectacular game, with both sides gaining a precious point. With this result, Marsa maintained their leadership and San Ġwann clinged to third place in the standings. The match had a thirty-minute delay as one of the assistant referees was injured during warming-up and had to be replaced. San Ġwann took the lead on seven minutes when Attah Chibueze headed home from close range. Marsa had an immediate reaction and two minutes later levelled matters with Leighton Grech beating Dean Sciberras with an angled drive. San Ġwann missed a couple of sitters as Marsa’s defence left much to be desired. However, Marsa took the lead on 37 minutes when Lydon Micallef was pushed inside the area and Jackson Lima fired home from the resultant penalty. In the second minute of stoppage time San Ġwann drew level when Adediran Quadri made way on the left flank and crossed towards Chibueze who scored his second of the game from close range. Seven minutes into the second half San Ġwann were back in front. Quadri on the left did all the spade work and it was an easy task for Uchenna Umeh tapping the ball home from close range. On 68 minutes Marsa were back on level terms when Lydon Micallef passed towards the unmarked Leighton Grech who scored with relative ease. Three minutes later and Marsa regained the lead with veteran striker Ian Zammit dribbling past Sciberras before hitting low into the net. Marsa had the match point on 77 minutes when Shola Haruna Shodiya won a penalty for a tackle by Christian Gauci, but Shodiya’s effort from the penalty spot finished against the crossbar. Marsa were made to pay for this as on 93 minutes, Andrea Zammit scored a great goal after receiving from Courage Omoruanzoje for a final 4-4 score.

 

Pembroke Athleta 1 Qrendi 1

Number two in de standings, Pembroke Athleta, faced a collective off-day against Qrendi. Both teams had to settle for a draw, leaving behind a Qrendi side who certainly could have taken all the three points from this encounter as they dominated large part of the first half and the complete second half. Pembroke were unrecognisable, struggling throughout the match. The match had a quiet start as there was little goalmouth action on both sides until Pedrinho’s opener one minute before the break, a wonderful curling top corner shot from just outside. Qrendi sensed they could take something out of this match and two minutes after the break, they were unlucky when Mariano Bueno headed on the crossbar after a corner action. On 53 minutes, a low shot by Sebastian Perdomo missed target by a whisker and two minutes later, an Andrew Agius shot sailed high from ideal position after some good work on the left from Perdomo. Pembroke coach Thane Micallef took action by getting attacker Peter Paul Sammut off, substituted by centre-back Mark-Anthony Borg, to strengthen their defence. The deserved equaliser arrived in the 85th minute. A corner created havoc in the Pembroke defence, with Alex Nillson passing the ball to Perdomo who beat Philip Schranz from close-range. Barely a minute later, substitute Jonathan Diumasumbu could have even scored the winner for Qrendi but the attempt from the Congolese was paraded by Schranz. On the other side, during a rare Pembroke attack, an attempt by John Etim from the edge of the box was turned into a corner by Julian Azzopardi. 

 

St Andrews 2 Swieqi United 0

Brian Said’s St Andrews registered an important derby victory against Swieqi to move further up in the table as the relegation battle is becoming more and more interesting, with practically more than half the teams in the Challenge League still involved. As expected, it was a keenly contested derby with St Andrews confirming their good patch after reaching the quarter finals stages of the FA Trophy. For Swieqi another setback as the battle for third place is now becoming wider with the likes of Zebbug and Naxxar ready to insert between San Gwann and the same Swieqi. Good start from the violets who were unlucky on two minutes when a Kei Sano grounder finished against the base of the upright. On the other end an Alan Schembri Wismayer was cleared off the goal line by Miguel D’Alessandro. On 36 minutes, St Andrews broke the deadlock when Sano was floored inside the area and Gunnar Stefansson drilled home from the spot. Swieqi went close a couple of minutes later but Frank Temile’s header was again cleared off the goal line. In the second half both sides had several scoring opportunities but the game was settled five minutes from time when substitute Jamie Sixsmtih scored his first goal of the season with a perfect execution direct from a freekick with the ball in the top corner of the net.

 

 

Żebbuġ Rangers 6 Qormi 2

The 54th derby in history between Zebbug and Qormi was emphatically won by Żebbuġ 6-2, their largest ever victory in history over their neighbours. Apart from this milestone, Zebbug confirmed that they are clearly in the running for third spot in the ranking, which has developed into Żebbuġ’s most realistic target this season. It was however Qormi who stormed ahead on 13 minutes as Ayoub Ahmad received the ball through a counter attack and slotted the ball home behind goalkeeper Matthew Grech. The Yellows' joy was short-lived as Żebbuġ levelled the score two minutes later through Jamie Carbone whose grounder beat Miguel Falzon.  Żebbuġ gained confidence and managed to score the second goal through Clive Gauci, his 14th league goal of the season. On 25 minutes, Żebbuġ scored their third as Gaetano Gesualdi converted a penalty. As the first half ended 3-1 for the Greens, in the second half the plan of the match didn't change so much as the latter managed to score two more goals through substitute Kevaughn Atkinson on 51 and 60 minutes. Qormi pulled one back through substitute Miguel Busuttil who took advantage of a defensive blunder in the 77th minute. Żebbuġ rubberstamped their victory on 82 minutes as Shaun Bugeja headed home after a cross.

 

Vittoriosa Stars 1 Fgura United 0

Ramond Zammit’s Vittoriosa Stars stopped their negative seven-match streak beating Fgura in a direct clash to return to winning ways and move above the same Fgura in the lower parts of the standings. It was a keen match but with very few scoring opportunities with Vittoriosa netting their winner early in the second half when from a corner action, Renan Bigode headed home his eighth goal of the season. On 67 minutes Vittoriosa were reduced to ten men when Gianluca Sultana received a second booking. Fgura piled the pressure in the remaining minutes introducing Donys Quintero and Gilbert Martin, but the Stars defended well and had very good opportunities in their breaks, but the score remained unchanged with Vittoriosa obtaining a valuable three points.

 

St George’s 0 Mqabba 2

Two second half goals gave Mqabba a precious victory against St George’s in an almost decisive match in the relegation battle. The victory gives Mqabba fresh hopes of survival, but on the other hand for St George’s the defeat spells out as an almost final verdict in their quest to avoid the big drop. It must be said that the Pioneers deserved much better, but in the end Mqabba took full advantage of the few chances that came their way, whilst St George’s were wasteful and unlucky in front of goal. In the first half St George’s missed two sitters in front of goal. Yuta Nomura beat the offside trap, dribbled past the goalkeeper but with an open goal at his mercy could only hit the base of the upright. On 26 minutes another golden opportunity for the Saints, this time with Wilfred Zamble all alone in front of goal. The Norwegian dribbled past the Mqabba custodian but his shot at goal was blocked on the goal line by Jeremy Azzopardi. On the resumption a Lee Agius scorcher rattled the crossbar and on 64 minutes in a rare attack, Mqabba broke the deadlock. Substitute Kurt Borg’s shot was deflected by a defender in the path of Johan Castano, back after an injury, and the Colombian striker made no mistake with a low shot. The Saints pushed bravely forward leaving open spaces at the back and were made to pay deep in stoppage time when Borg put the issue beyond doubt with a second goal.

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