Marsaxlokk put out a statement of intent on Sunday as they put six past Mqabba at the Victor Tedesco Stadium. It was a one-sided encounter with the southseasiders in complete control from start to finish.
While the scoreline indicates Marsaxlokk’s superiority, coach Edgar Degabriele admits it is redemption for offensive problems during their first season back in the Challenge League.
“Today I’m more than satisfied with my team’s performance. I believe it was the solution to a problem we had and which we’ve been working on – getting into the final third and scoring,” Degabriele told The Times of Malta.
“I think that against every team, we’ve attacked and dominated, apart from that last game against Pembroke, but struggled to score.
“We’ve been working on this since before Christmas and I believe today we got what we wanted. Now we must work on getting away from the relegation spots because we are not a team which deserves to be there.”
The Yellows have had the brightest of starts but the season then became a rollercoaster ride for them which led to the side now in tenth place on 21 points, a point below Żebbuġ Rangers and three above Fgura United, which just about keeps them out of the relegation zone.
Degabriele attributes the lack of offensive prowess to injuries.
“Before the season, we had Juninho Cabral who has been out ever since. Samuel Buhagiar as well hasn’t even played a minute of football,” Degabriele admitted.
“I think it’s been a season of many injuries. We brought Cabral for him to score and we’ve been hit hard with his injury.”
Despite all this, the side may have found its new talisman in former Hibernians forward Rundell Winchester.
Even against Mqabba, Winchester was in top form as he scored twice and set up another.
“I did everything so that ( Rundell) Winchester could join us and with him we also brought in Rafael de Fex from Żejtun, who after just one day of training ended up injured as well,” Degabriele explained.
“That is our problem here – we’ve made good choices, but we’ve had too many injuries.
“Winchester is an ex-Hibs player and I wanted to have him here. Luckily, we have a president who does all he can for the team and deserves a lot of gratitude. Because of this, the team definitely does not deserve to be where it is right now in the standings.”
It was all Marsaxlokk from the very first attack as from a defensive clearance, Dennis Cartella sped along the flank, laid it off to Winchester whose shot beat Mqabba goalkeeper Jonathan Grech after just seven minutes.
Just before the half hour, Marsaxlokk made it two. After a masterful Cartella play to beat three defenders, he pushed the ball onto Russell Fenech. The latter let in a cross and Neil Falzon’s attempt to clear put the ball into his own net.
Four minutes later, Winchester got his brace after intercepting a misplaced pass and replicating his first goal as Mqabba looked out of sorts.
Marsaxlokk did not waste any time after the break to make it four as from a short corner, Bradley Sciberras hit a cross-shot which dipped over Grech and into the net.
Just as the second half began to look like the first, another mistimed pass gave the ball to Winchester who, this time, repaid the favour to Cartella with an identical pass for him to score the team’s fifth.
Marsaxlokk were not finished yet as they got a final goal 15 minutes from time when substitute Pablo Doffo hit a free-kick close to the D and even though Grech stretched, it was not enough to stop the ball from going in.
MARSAXLOKK: F. Tabone, G. Barone, D. Cartella, C. Degabriele, R. Fenech, N. Ghio (60 Z. Mifsud), J. Morales (73 Zezinho), B. Sciberras, J. Spiteri (60 D. Sammut), R. Winchester (67 R. Sammut), P. Xuereb (67 P. Doffo).
MQABBA: J. Grech, N. Falzon (70 K. Cutajar), D. Zampa (46 G. Bugeja), N. Abouaisha, R. Cauchi, G. Cesani (66 F. Zammit), R. Cutajar (46 D. Pace), G. Mannino, D. Micallef, B. Sciberras, R. Spiteri (80 G. Azzopardi).
Referee: Darryl Agius
Scorers: Winchester (MX) 7, 33; Falzon (MQ) 29 o.g; Sciberras (MX) 57; Cartella (MX) 66; Doffo (MX) 75.
Best player: Dennis Cartella (Marsaxlokk).
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 6
QRENDI: C. Abdilla, L. Martinelli, J. Busuttil (46 E. Vella), S. Schembri, B. Muscat (60 M. Gatt), D. Sammut, M. Brincat, A. Agius, D. Bueno (85 N. Pabon), J. Diumasumbu, S. Perdomo (73 D. Azzopardi).
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS: M. Grech, S. Bugeja, J. Micallef, A. Mizzi, J. Silveira (55 G. De Marino), C. Gauci (68 C. Vella), R. Vella (55 G. Gesualdi), S. Gauci, K. Atkinson (66 L. Mijic), S. Miloskovic, J. Tanti.
Referee: Andrea Sciriha.
Scorers: Gauci (Ż) 5, 49; Bueno (Q) 7 pen.; Atkinson (Ż) 9 pen., 27; Micallef (Ż) 67; Agius (Q) 74; Bugeja (Ż) 90.
PIETÀ HOTSPURS 0
SWIEQI UNITED 3
PIETÀ HOTSPURS: M. Chetcuti, S. Okoh, L. Cassar Jackson (75 G. Borg), M. Portelli (86 E. Camilleri), N. Pace Cocks (86 N. Pisani), J. Ghio, D. Segura, Z. Leonardi (61 C. Bouvet), I. Jalo, J. Scicluna, L. Galea.
SWIEQI UNITED: J.C. Debattista, I. Micallef, M. Attard, J. Magri Overend (89 K. Muscat), J. Micallef, J. Willy, I. Salis, M. Vella (69 L. Zammit), C. Cutajar, T. Ayorinde (78 A. Okamura), J. Azzopardi.
Referee: Sandro Spiteri.
Scorers: Micallef 5, Ayorinde 53, Okamura 81.
Red card: Bouvet (P) 90.
VITTORIOSA STARS 0
ST ANDREWS 1
VITTORIOSA STARS: R. Caruana, C. Spiteri, I. Abela, I. Curmi (78 Q. Bregman), G. Sultana (78 A. Galea), D. Sowatey (78 L. de Melo), G. Zammit, R. Previ, A. Oularbi (61 D. Serna), R. Farias, D. Borg Castaldi (62 L. Gauci).
ST ANDREWS: N. Grima, I. Azzopardi, M. D’Alessandro, M. Ono, N. Bradshaw (75 W. Camilleri), J. Farrugia, M. Bartolo, K. Bituemi, A. Borg Olivier, L. Borg, D. Jackson (89 G. Stefansson).
Referee: Shaun Calleja.
Scorer: Spiteri (V) 69 og.
PEMBROKE ATHLETA 4
QORMI: M. Falzon, O. Sidibe, L. Farrugia, L. Theuma (81 S. Seychell), D. Camilleri (46 M. Busuttil), G. Borg, T. Grima, R. Uriu (64 A. Ayoub), A. Oliviera, L. Azzopardi, N. Falzon.
PEMBROKE: P. Schranz (77 M. Bonnici), A. Marshall, K. Farrugia, D. Sant, K. Frendo, J. Ogunuppe (75 J. Oghenekewaro), N. Frendo (46 M. Zarb), A. Abdeen (46 L. Chiedozie), T. Fenech, C. Zammit (46 M. Zarb), P. Sammut.
Referee: Eziekel Barbara
Scorers: Abdeen 6, 8; Sammut 17; Chiedozie 85.
NAXXAR LIONS 0
NAXXAR LIONS: O. Borg, J. Sciberras, R. Mercieca, M. Mifsud, N. Borg, C. Bibaku, A. Azzopardi (78 E. Farias), R. Cassar, S. Meilak, L. Schembri (89 S. Fabri), B. Schembri (84 G. Xuereb).
MARSA: N. Vella, P. Chircop (44 C. Gatt Baldacchino), J. Bondin, M. Micallef, J. Lima, D. Grima, P. Teixeira (74 A. Monticelli), F. Gusman, H. Shodiya (74 P. Henrique), L. Micallef (74 L. Grech), D. Agius (74 I. Zammit).
Referee: Daniel Portelli.
Scorers: L. Micallef 19, Grech 87; Zammit 90.