Pembroke beat Swieqi in top of the table clashPublished: 17-02-2021 09:30
BOV Challenge League
While the relegation battle is far from over in the BOV Challenge League, runaway leaders Pembroke and Marsa have now opened a big gap over their nearest rivals in the standings. Swieqi United 1 Pembroke Athleta 3Pembroke made an almost decisive step in their bid for promotion to the Premier League when they defeated third placed Swieqi United in the top match of the week. It was a great match between two sides who produced fast flowing football with Pembroke emerging worthy winners. All goals were scored in the first half, played at an incredible pace. Swieqi were better in the opening ten minutes with Pembroke unable to settle down and it was no surprise that the Orange broke the deadlock on twelve minutes when Ibrahim Salis slotted home the rebound following an Alan Schembri Wismayer shot that was partially blocked by Schranz. But Pembroke were able to level matters two minutes later with a swift move, finished off by Peter Paul Sammut who beat Jean-Claude Debattista with a low drive. It was a different game now with Pembroke taking the upper hand and the lead on 24 minutes. Abdul Abdeen’s irresistible run on the left was finished with a cross towards Neil Frendo who drilled the ball home. Four minutes from the break, Abdeen pounced on a Marc Attard hesitation to beat the helpless Debattista. Swieqi improved in the second half as the game was less intense but still an entertaining one to watch. Both sides had many scoring opportunities but the result remained unchanged with Pembroke making a double over their rivals, and practically booking a place in next season’s Premier League. Qormi 1 Marsa 5On Monday night at the Centenary Stadium, Lydon Micallef was the protagonist for Marsa with a man of the match performance as he scored all five goals for his side in an emphatic 5-1 win over bottom side Qormi. His first goal arrived after twelve minutes and Micallef doubled the score ten minutes later. Qormi goalkeeper Miguel Falzon was beaten for the third time on 38 minutes. Two minutes into the second half, Micallef added his fourth before substitute Uriu Ryoma pulled one back for Qormi on 75 minutes. On the stroke of full-time, Lydon Micallef added his fifth goal to make it a memorable match. The ex-Balzan striker is leading the Top Scorers classification in the Challenge League with 18 goals. The RedBlues are one point behind league leaders Pembroke but have a game in hand. Pieta’ Hotspurs 4 San Ġwann 3Pieta returned to winning form after two successive defeats, beating San Ġwann with the odd goal in seven in a spectacular match. San Ġwann played a large part of the second half with ten men after Uchenna Umeh was sent-off for a second bookable offence on 55 minutes. Pieta took the lead on ten minutes with Daniel Mesa firing the ball home following a good run by James Scicluna. On 33 minutes San Ġwann drew level when Sjaak Kuyper passed towards Adediran Quadri who scored a gem from an acute angle. Six minutes later Pieta were back in front when a Mesa fierce drive was partially saved by the goalkeeper and Scicluna rushed to hit home the rebound. Ten minutes into the second half, Umeh was shown a second yellow card but San Ġwann were still enough to level matters with a great Adediran header. On 71 minutes Pieta were again in front when Diego Segura was fouled in the area and Mesa hit home from the penalty spot. Three minutes from time Pieta sealed the issue with a fourth goal scored by Segura who had little difficulty in putting at the back of the net after another solo run by Scicluna. But it was not over as there was room for yet another goal, a great goal scored by the ever-impressive Dutch import Kuyper. St George’s 2 Żebbuġ Rangers 5Another impressive display by Żebbuġ, who registered their fourth consecutive victory beating St.George’s 5-2 in a highly entertaining match. The team of coach Fausto Craighero fully deserved their victory confirming their golden patch, but the score is rather harsh on the Saints who threw their all in the game and provided a very valid opposition to the high-flying rangers. Żebbuġ forged ahead on twelve minutes when a Giorgio De Marino harmless looking shot was fumbled by goalkeeper Mario Bartolo with the ball finishing at the back of the net. On 21 minutes Żebbuġ doubled the score with a swift counter break finished by Clive Gauci. On 36 minutes St. George’s pulled one back thanks to Wilfred Zamble drive after a very good run on the right. Just before the break a Randall Vella cross was miskicked by Jesmar Briffa for a very unlucky own goal. On the resumption the Saints went on the attack but Żebbuġ were very dangerous with Gauci hitting the crossbar. On 68 minutes again the Saints pulled one back, again through Zamble and three minutes later Żebbuġ had a Jonatan Silva shot cleared off the goal line. On 77 minutes, Żebbuġ scored their fourth goal with a good Gauci run and an inviting pass towards Luka Mijic who easily slotted home. Sixty seconds later Mijic returned the favour with Clive Gauci rounding off the goalkeeper before scoring the fifth and final goal.Naxxar Lions 4 St Andrews 0Last Saturday, Naxxar Lions pushed St Andrews back into trouble by beating the Saints four goals to nil. St Andrews’ coach Brain Said had to field a depleted side but had absolutely no reply against the power play of Naxxar, who fully deserved their win. The Lions were on the offensive immediately when Mead Mifsud's shot in the 5th minute hit the crossbar, the ball remained in play and Edson Farias headed it in giving no chance to goalkeeper Duncan Formosa to react. Three minutes before the break, Naxxar doubled thanks to Dimitri Kassekar. St Andrews started the second half well and were trying to get back into the game. However, in the 64th minute, Farias scored his second goal of the day, this time with a header from a corner. Four minutes later, substitute Jordan Sciberras's great shot from just inside the box secured the win for Naxxar Lions to take home a well-deserved three points.Marsaxlokk 1 Qrendi 1Stalemate in a balanced affair, with Marsaxlokk playing the last twenty minutes of the match with a man less. Marsaxlokk saw more of the ball in the first half but Qrendi dominated the second half, even before Marsaxlokk were reduced to ten men. Edgar Degabriele’s team were unlucky on twelve minutes when a Russell Fenech grounder finished against the base of the upright. Six minutes later Qrendi took the lead with a well taken goal by Daniel Bueno after being served by Michael Gatt. On 26 minutes Marsaxlokk drew level with a gift goal when the Qrendi goalkeeper lost possession of the ball and Josuel Spiteri was on hand to slot home. Just before the break a Gatt effort missed the target. In the second half Qrendi took their opponents by storm and Marsaxlokk goalkeeper Fredrick Tabone was his side’s hero with a string of excellent saves. The inclusion of Sebastian Perdomo and the sending off Rundell Winchester on 70 minutes made it extremely difficult for Marsaxlokk to cope, but Tabone was in great form denying Perdomo on many occasions.Mqabba 1 Fgura United 2Kevin Vella’s Fgura turned defeat into victory beating Mqabba by the odd goal in three in an exciting direct clash from the relegation zone. Both sides missed a penalty, Fgura in the first half and Mqabba in the second, with Mqabba having to play the last thirteen minutes with ten men. Mqabba had a good start forging ahead on ten minutes when goalkeeper Lydon Moore hesitated and failed to clear the ball and was anticipated by Kurt Borg who slotted home in an empty net. Four minutes later, Fgura’s Dylan Caruana had a good opportunity but his shot was saved by Mqabba goalkeeper Maverick Buhagiar. On 39 minutes Fgura had a golden opportunity when Donys Quintero was floored by Gabriel Mannino, but Saturday Nanapere’s shot from the penalty spot was saved by Buhagiar. Fgura’s pressure increased and on 64 minutes they drew level when Quintero headed home from a corner action. Two minutes later Gianfranco Micallef was fouled by Charles Gandini, but from the resultant penalty, Mannino’s effort smashed against the crossbar. On 69 minutes Fgura scored what proved to be the winner when Quintero did all the running on the right before passing towards substitute Gilbert Martin who first timed beautifully home. On 77 minutes, Gaston Cesani received a second yellow and Mqabba had to carry on with ten men. They attacked for the remaining minutes but Fgura managed to hold off these attacks to gain a precious victory.