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‘Żebbuġ win a reward for previous displays’

Żebbug’s Kurt Bondin shoots at goal against St Andrews. Photo: Wally Galea


Żebbuġ Rangers moved up the table with a 4-1 win over St Andrews on Sunday at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.

However, it was not as emphatic as the scoreline suggests and new coach Fausto Craighero admitted it only gives his side credit for the better performances in previous games which did not add up to the full three points.

In fact, the side had only two points to show for the past five games before their win over St Andrews. But Craighero, who replaced Clive Mizzi late October with the club in a particularly tight spot, said the performances show otherwise.

“Today was not a good performance,” Craighero told the Times of Malta.

“In the last six games we performed better but we conceded. Today we didn’t perform but we won and that is football because sometimes, a game changes with one single incident.

“I think today we collected the points for what we did in our last games because honestly, the score today is not correct.”

With the Italian joining the club in the midst of various injury problems and also two players forced into COVID-19 quarantine, he says both him and the club have had to weigh their players’ abilities.

“Today I only had 14 (senior squad) players, and the rest were young players,” the Żebbuġ mentor said.

“For me, it was not easy because I arrived only a month ago and I found a set team which I have to use – I could not select the players myself. In January, we should be injecting some changes into our team with hope that the season will be better.”

While previous injury may have been a concern for Craighero, it was St Andrews coach Brian Said who had to deal with an injury on Sunday as just a minute into the game, defender Karel Bituemi collided with goalkeeper Duncan Formosa, the former ending up stretchered off and taken straight to hospital. Matthew Muscat replaced the Belgian with the game restarting after 15 minutes.

The incident did not look to have affected the side as much, however, as the Saints had the first opportunity of the game, a minute later, from a Joseph Farrugia free-kick which found Miguel D’ Alessandro but his header was too weak.

It became one-way traffic for St Andrews as Grech was forced to make three more stops before the half-hour. However, it was also clear that the Saints needed to be more clinical if they were to score – they were made to pay for this on 38 minutes as Żebbuġ went ahead with their first real opportunity.

A Clive Gauci free-kick was accurate enough for John Micallef to head past Formosa.

St Andrews responded with a swift solo move by Alan Borg Olivier, who beat his marker and fired in from close range but Grech was once again ready to block the shot.

Żebbuġ carried their momentum after the break and could have made it two after just three minutes after scorer Micallef was tripped inside the area. However, Formosa produced a great save to stop Jonatan Silveira’s penalty.

Ten minutes into the half, it was St Andrews who got their chance from the spot and this time, captain Farrugia made no mistake to grab an equaliser.

After the hour, St Andrews began to look lost and Żebbuġ took charge, and the lead, after 62 minutes. Kurt Bondin pushed the ball to Stanimir Miloskovic, who beat the offside trap and hit past Formosa.

The Rangers added another with eight minutes to go after a failed attempt to intercept a throughball brought the ball to Silveira, who this time overcame the goalkeeper and hit into the empty net.

There was still time for a final goal for Żebbuġ three minutes from time as a miscommunication in defence for St Andrews gifted the ball to Gauci, who carried the ball across the area and fired in the team’s fourth.

ST ANDREWS: D. Formosa, R. Micallef Decesare, M. D’Alessandro, M. Bartolo, K. Bituemi (10 M. Muscat), J. Farrugia, J. Sixsmith, Z. Muscat (72 L. Grech), D. Jackson, S. Cassar Torregiani, A. Borg Olivier.
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS: M. Grech, G. Gesualdi, S. Bugeja, J. Micallef, T. Bartolo, G. Azzopardi, R. Vella (64 J. Carbone), C. Gauci, K. Bondin (85 K. Vella), J. Silveira, S. Miloskovic.
Referee: Daniel Portelli.
Best player: Matthew Grech (Żebbuġ Rangers).



MARSAXLOKK: A. Chetcuti, C. Degabriele, J. Morales, G. Barone (72 D. Sammut), D. Cartella, J.P. Mifsud Triganza (46 R. Fenech), I. Paz; J. Spiteri (26 R. Sammut), B. Sciberras (72 Z. Mifsud), C. Brincat, P. Xuereb.
MARSA: N. Vella, P. Chircop (88 S. Diacono), J. Bondin, A. Monticelli, M. Micallef, J. Lima (77 I. Zammit), C. Gatt Baldacchino, D. Grima, P. Teixeira (65 P. Henrique), L. Grech (88 F. Gusman), L. Micallef (77 R. Coelho).
Referee: Ishmael Barbara.
Scorers: Spiteri (MX) 5; Lima (MS) 24; Micallef (MS) 27.


ST GEORGE’S: M. Bartolo, M. Caruana, L. Bonett, D. Caruana, B. Gomes, L. Agius, A. Gili, D. Serna, R. Tanti, O. Magro, J. Grech.
PEMBROKE ATHLETA: P. Schranz, K. Farrugia, D. Sant, K. Frendo, P. Santos (46 J. Ogunuppe), A. Temitope (76 A. Marshall), T. Fenech, N. Grech, M. Borg (88 S. Gauci), K. Aquilina (46 M. Zarb), J. Etim (L. Chiedozie).
Referee: Sandro Spiteri.
Scorer: Chiedozie 62.


FGURA UNITED: B. Bartolo, J. Barbara (86 C. Ciantar), S. Abela (46 J. Stensen), J.P. Attard, T. Grech (78 R. Gove), G. Martin, C. Gandini, J. Vella, J. Cassar (46 G. Galea), S. Hili (78 M. Vella), N. Ojuola.
QORMI: J. Vella, O. Sidibe, D. Perassolii, L. Farrugia (65 G. Sammut), L. Mallia, A. Bonnici, R. Caruana (76 I. Mizzi), M. Busuttil (46 A. Oliveira), J. Mizzi, N. Gauci, I. Zammit (57 S. Seychell).
Referee: Andrea Sciriha.
Scorers: Mallia (Q) 21; Hili (F) 36 pen., 42; Martin (F) 80.


MQABBA: J. Grech, N. Falzon, G. Mannino, D. Pace (75 J. Azzopardi), R. Cauchi (75 G. Bugeja), J. Castano, K. Cutajar, R. Spiteri, D. Micallef (34 G. Micallef), G. Cesani (87 C. Cutajar); B. Sciberras.
SWIEQI UNITED: JC. Debattista, T. Bonello, J. Magri Overend, S. Elfarsi, J. Micallef (91 L. Zammit), I. Salis (91 M. Camilleri), A. Schembri Wismayer, M. Vella (80 D. Borg), M. Ivanovic, F. Temile (87 T. Ayorinde), J. Azzopardi.
Referee: Shaun Calleja.
Scorers: Temile (S) 66; Falzon (M) 97.


VITTORIOSA STARS: R. Caruana, R. Previ (87 I. Abela), D. Sowatey, A. Galea, Q. Bregman (90 K. Abela), J. Farrugia, A. Sultana, G. Sultana, D. Borg Castaldi (90 L. Gauci), A. Oularbi (87 A. Cilia Mumford), L. De Melo.
NAXXAR LIONS: O. Borg, R. Cassar, J. Sciberras, F. Zuniga, M. Fenech, A. Azzopardi, T. Battaglia (72 E. Farias), N. Borg (68 M. Mifsud), J. Ellul, E. Ferreira, B. Schembri (80 A. Azzopardi).
Referee: Slobodan Petrovic.


QRENDI: C. Abdilla, J. Busuttil, S. Schembri, D. Sammut, A. Agius, D. Bueno, E. Vella, S. Perdomo (80 D. Zarb), D. Azzopardi, L. Schembri (88 L. Martinelli), C. Camilleri.
PIETA HOTSPURS: M. Chetcuti, L. Cassar Jackson, M. Portelli, N. Pace Cocks, J. Ghio, D. Segura, C. Bouvet, N. Pisani (79 S. Pisani), C. Ze Lucas (72 Z. Leonardi), J. Irimiya (79 S. Mizzi), J. Scicluna (72 G. Borg).
Referee: Stefan Pace
Scorers: Ghio (P) 15; Bueno (Q) 31, 71 pen.
Red card: Camilleri (Q) 90.


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