San Ġiljan shocked champions Neptunes to win deservedly 13-10 after showing great resilience, better appreciation of tactics and clinical finish.
It was indeed a slick display from Dorian Pisani’s side as they tore into the heart of Neptunes with Ben Plumpton and Paul Fava playing the scoring tune. Neptunes had no answer to their opponents’ resolute play.
San Ġiljan stepped into the driving seat from the second session onwards to take Neptunes by storm and they could obtain a valuable headstart ahead of their rivals at the start of the Premier Division if they beat Birżebbuġa tomorrow.
San Ġiljan restricted their opponents to distant shooting with Darren Zammit marshalling his defence superably in front of a sound Jake Tanti in goal. Paul Fava surprised Alan Borg Cole with an angled effort from eight metres to put the Saints ahead in the first session.
Neptunes’ insistence on zone cost them a second goal at the beginning of the second session, although one must give credit to Ben Plumpton’s sharpness. Nikolai Zammit pulled a goal back when he squeezed the ball in to make it 2-1. After that, the Reds plucked up courage and reacted well with Jordan Camilleri being their dangerman scoring twice on either side of Andreas Galea who had resolved a break in San Ġiljan’s favour.
Fava’s powerful potting became problematic for Neptunes and his second goal made it 4-3.
Steve Camilleri looked subdued, almost anonymous and could only find the opposing net when the dice had long been cast. He had been hanging on two early fouls after he conceded a penalty on Matthew Zammit. From the ensuing five-metre effort, Dino Zammit made it 5-3. But Nikolai Zammit profited from the presence of San Ġiljan’s inexperienced tailenders in the water to throw a lifeline when reducing the deficit to 5-4 before the change of ends.
But from then on, San Ġiljan took over as they allowed their opponents little time and space in which to carve a way to goal. Fava was proving all his worth in position 1, potting goal number three with a cheeky lob. Plumpton and Dino Zammit scored in quick succession to give their team a 8-4 buffer.
Jeremy Abela pulled one back. However, the Saints were on song and Neptunes were a demoralised lot. Darren Zammit and Ben Plumpton opened an 11-5 lead before the start of the last quarter.
In the fourth session, Neptunes’ duo Steven Camilleri and Jake Muscat woke up to their responsabilities, but their goals were of little effect as San Ġiljan emerged clear winners.
SAN ĠILJAN 13
(0-1, 4-5, 1-5, 5-2)
NEPTUNES: A.Borg Cole, J. Muscat 2, L. Calleja, G. Pace, S. Busuttil, J. Spiteri Staines, S. Camilleri 2, J. Camilleri 2, J. Abela 2, N. Zammit 2, S. Stellini, S. Gialanze, B. Busuttil.
SAN ĠILJAN: J. Tanti, K. Tanti, A. Galea 3, D. Ciantar, M. Mannino, M. Zammit, B. Plumpton 4, J. Bonavia, Z. Micallef, Darren Zammit 1, P. Fava 3, Dino Zammit 2, G. Vassallo.
Refs: Ronnie Spiteri, Massimo Angileri.