Luqa St Andrew’s crowned National Amateur League winners

Published: 08-03-2021 13:55
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BOV AMATEUR LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY-OFFS Melita 1 Luqa St Andrew’s 2 Luqa St Andrew’s have won the inaugural BOV National Amateur League, beating Melita 2-1 to top the championship play-off series with four points.  Led by coach Edmond Lufi, Luqa took their chances well with their fast strikers Lucky Nwaogu and Mario Jude Dominicius keeping the Melita rearguard on their toes throughout the match. Melita had a fine match, dictating play for long stretches but paid the price for missing a penalty with the score 1-1.  Melita, who needed a win from this match after drawing with Mġarr United in the opening play-off, started very well, forcing Luqa to operate solely on counter-attacks. However, on the half-hour mark, Luqa were awarded a penalty when Melita goalkeeper Luciano Camilleri fouled Nwaogu in the box. Keith Vella made no mistake from the spot to put his side 1-0 up. Luqa’s opener somewhat halted Melita’s rhythm but they stepped up their game after the change of ends. Three minutes into the second half, Melita were awarded a penalty after Jean Pierre Attard was fouled in the box. Michael Cachia drove home from the spot to equalise for the Amateurs. Not long after that, in the 53rd minute, Melita were awarded another penalty when substitute Tobias Terpougoff was illegally halted inside the box. This time, however, Luqa goalkeeper Leighton Mifsud blocked Cachia’s attempt, turning Noel Francis Omondo’s rebound away for a corner.  Close to the hour, Nigel Rizzo fired high from an ideal position after receiving a perfect assist from the lively Terpougoff.  With Melita pushing for a winner, it was Luqa who scored on 77 minutes. Running on to a through-ball, Nwaogu advanced before beating Camilleri with a low shot to put his side 2-1 up.  In the 87th minute, Omondi headed wide from close range after a Matthew Debattista free-kick. In the ensuing attack, at the other end, Alan Abdelrahman’s angled shot was turned away for a corner by Camilleri.  Unfortunately, there was some tension at the end of the match, resulting in red cards for unused substitute Ryan Gafa and coach Edmond Lufi as well as for Omondi and Melita assistant coach Alessandro Ciantar.  Luqa were thus crowned BOV National Amateur League winners while Melita and Mġarr United, won their respective group, were also promoted. Malta FA Vice-President Adrian Casha presented the trophies and medals to the Luqa St Andrew's players and a plaque to the other promoted teams. BOV AMATEUR LEAGUE PROMOTION PLAY-OFF FINALKirkop United 1 Rabat Ajax 2 (AET; 90 mins – 1-1)After a three-year absence, Rabat Ajax are back in Malta’s second tier after beating Kirkop United 2-1 in an exciting promotion play-Off final.  Led by coach Vesko Petrovic, Rabat were the better team on Saturday afternoon but Kirkop’s fighting spirit kept them in the match until the very end as extra-timewas needed to decide the winner. Kirkop, whose semi-final against Attard in midweek had also gone into extra-time, must be complemented for their end-of-season run.  Rabat dominated the first period with Nicolai Attard and Aidan Azzopardi testing Kirkop custodian Jonathan Mallia with two angled shots in the first 30 minutes. Three minutes before the break, Kirkop had their first shot at goal with a Danny Claridge effort which was easily blocked by Rabat goalkeeper Jean Matthias Vella.. Three minutes after the restart, Rabat took a deserved lead. Sean Abela crossed the ball from the right into the box with the Kirkop defence failing to clear the ball and Azzopardi was alert to slot the ball home from close range. Kirkop reacted and on 53 minutes, Lincoln Micallef’s shot from just outside the box was well saved by Vella. Moments later, a Claridge attempt was turned away for a corner.  At the other end, on 69 minutes, Attard was sent through after a perfect through-pass by Neil Farrugia, outrunning the on storming Mallia but he was denied by the post. On 75 and 81 minutes, Claridge took two excellent free-kicks which brought the best out of Vella in both attempts.   Minutes later, a Dylan Tanti attempt from a corner action just missed the target. Two minutes into added time, Ayrton Buhagiar was fouled in the box by Kurt Tanti with the referee pointing to the penalty spot. Tanti converted from 11-metre mark to send the match into extra-time.   It was Kirkop who saw most of the ball in extra time but it was Rabat substitute Axl Xuereb who came close to scoring the winner on 110 minutes but his angled shot was turned away for a corner by Mallia. Two minutes later, Tanti headed just wide after a Claridge corner.  A minute before full time, the unmarked Nestor Canas scored the winner for the Magpies after a measured pass by Maverick Cassar, much to the delight of the Rabat Ajax players and officials. A top achievement for Rabat, who at times, struggled in Group B of the Amateur League but showed great fighting spirit and found their form in the end.