San Ġiljan ended the 2020 season in a blaze of glory. They defeated rivals Neptunes to carry off their 12th KO and the double for the seventh time, making it a memorable season when they remained unbeaten throughout.
And if any proof was needed that they had the strongest squad without foreigners, it was provided yesterday when they conducted the match scorewise and showed fighting spirit to pull away decisively in the last session after Neptunes staged a comeback.
Yet, a moment of folly by Neptunes coach Jovan Popovic in the second session, followed by Jordan Camilleri who was fouled out, severly curtailed his team’s chances of recovery,.
The psychological advantage was always on the Saints side. James Spiteri Staines’ apparent effort to dodge an opponent was deemed to warrant a penalty but Dino Zammit saw his effort saved by Alan Borg Cole.
The Reds took the lead through Jordan Camilleri but San Ġiljan reacted for a 2-1 advantage with goals by Matthew Zammit and Dino Zammit.
The match was marked by stringent man-to-man cover all over the pitch.
San Ġiljan won a man-up and Dino Zammit made it 3-1.
Neptunes home-grown hopes Sam Gialanze and Jake Muscat scored in quick succession to draw level.
But Neptunes coach Popovic was dismissed for protests, followed by Camilleri who was fouled out in the second session as the Reds’ already-limited resources, which had them revolving on few units, were further stretched.
On their part, San Ġiljan could rely on a more extensive bench and one of the Saints tail-enders Matthias Ortoleva scored at either side of half-time to give his side a two-goal advantage.
Muscat’s snap shot bridged the gap to 6-4 but Matthew Zammit’s powerful potting was turning out to be problematic for Neptunes and his third goal in the third session made it 7-4. Jeremy Abela and Paul Fava joined on the fouled-out list.
At the start of the last eight minutes, Neptunes staged late recovery with two goals from Steven Camilleri to come within one goal of levelling matters.
San Ġiljan did not fold and Matthew Zammit and Andreas Galea applied the killer touch to send their team into raptures.
BOV Chief Officer Anthony Scicluna presented the trophy to San Ġiljan veteran Paul Fava, who announced his retirement after 13 years of service at the club.
In Division One, superior Valletta put the seal on a successful season when landing the double after beating Marsascala.
The side led by Stephen Rizzo have thus rubberstamped their complete superiority over Marsascala when winning both the league play-offs and the KO final against the same rivals.
This time, Valletta owed their strength to solid collective play propelled mainly by their scoring machine Miguel Zammit who yesterday caught the eye with two fine back-hand goals.
(3-0, 5-3, 5-2, 3-1)
Valletta: R. Sciortino, P. Borg 1, M. Stellini 2, A. Agius 1, R. Mock, D. Paolella 3, A. Bianchi 3, N Farrugia, M. Zammit 3, K. Galea 2, N. Lanzon 1, T. Micallef.
Marsascala: J. Micallef, JC Cutajar 1, A. Camenzuli, P. Privitera 2, M. Aquilina 2, L. Grixti, K. Navarro, M. Manara. L. Felice, G. Galea, R. Attard 1, D. Camilleri, A. Muscat
Refs: R. Spiteri, A. DeRaffaele.
SAN ĠILJAN 9
(2-1, 2-2, 3-1, 2-2)
San Ġiljan: J. Tanti, K. Tanti, A. Galea 1, D. Ciantar, M. Mannino, M. Zammit 4, B. Plumpton, J. Bonavia, Z. Micallef, Darren Zammit, P. Fava, Dino Zammit 2, G. Vassallo, M. Ortoleva 2.
Neptunes: A.Borg Cole, J. Muscat 2, L. Calleja, G. Pace, S. Busuttil, J. Spiteri Staines, S. Camilleri 2, J. Camilleri 1, J. Abela, M. Farrugia, S. Stellini, S. Gialanze 1, B. Busuttil.
Refs: M. Dalli, M. Angileri.