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Nadur Youngsters relaunch title challenge with Sannat Lions victory

Nadur’s Ederson (left) in a duel with Joseph Zammit. PHOTO: ANTHONY CASSAR

Victoria Hotspurs drop more points

Reigning champions Nadur Youngsters bounced back from the unexpected defeat to Xewkija Tigers when they brushed aside Sannat Lions 3-0.

Nadur are currently third in the standings, six points adrift of leaders Għajnsielem, who however, have played a game more.

On this form, Nadur will be serious challengers for the title.

Nadur were led from the bench for the first time by Branko Nisevic who last week had replaced Pasquale Centofanti as the first-team coach.

The Youngsters held control of play for most of the encounter and administered their lead with authority with Sannat rarely threatening the Nadur goal.

Marcelo Barbosa put Nadur ahead on 18 minutes.

Sannat almost levelled matters soon after when they were awarded a free-kick and Joseph Zammit’s inswinger flew just over the bar.

Four minutes into the second half, the Youngsters were unlucky not to extend their lead when efforts by Gianluca Muscat and Andrea Debrincat hit the bar.

But the Youngsters went on to seal the points midway through the second half when Debrincat scored two quick goals on 66 and 70 minutes.

On the other hand, Victoria Hotspurs dropped more points in their bid to close the gap with the league pacesetters when they shared six goals with Kerċem Ajax.

The Hotspurs came into the match on the back of two consecutive defeats against two title contenders and were expected to pick up all points against the Ajax.

However, this match confirmed Victoria’s limitations as they were once again very erratic in front of goal and ended up conceding goals during crucial moments of the match.

Samuel Saldanha scores a dramatic equaliser for Kerċem Ajax against Victoria Hotspurs. Photo: Anthony Cassar

Kerċem, who are aiming to earn a respectable placing in the standings, surprised their more-quoted opponents early on and took the lead after nine minutes of play when Samuel Saldanha lobbed the ball into the net.

The Hotspurs, however, recovered from this early setback and managed to turn the result in the favour before the break.

Paulo Santos De Azevedo headed home the equaliser on 17 minutes before Christian Attard shot them 2-1 ahead in the first minute of stoppage time. 

The Hotspurs maintained control of play after the break and could have added more goals but Christian Mercieca and Olimpio Gabriel Fernandes missed two open scoring opportunities.

Kerċem looked on the ropes and on 82 minutes, the Hotspurs seemed to have put the game to bed when De Azevedo made it 3-1.

However, Kerċem refused to throw in the towel and they re-opened the issue on 85 minutes through a shot by Jason Theuma. 

The Ajax went on to rescue a point in the sixth minute of stoppage time when Victoria’s defence failed to clear the ball from a corner action and Saldanha blasted home from close in.

NEXT FIXTURES

PLAYING ON FRIDAY

GOZO STADIUM

GFA Division One

Nadur Y. vs SK Victoria W.        19.00

PLAYING SATURDAY

KERĊEM STADIUM

GFA Division Two Cup

Għarb R. vs Żebbuġ R. 12.30

GOZO STADIUM

GFA Division One

Victoria H. vs Xaghra Utd          15.00

PLAYING SUNDAY

KERĊEM STADIUM

GFA Division Two Cup

Munxar F. vs Qala S.    12.30

GOZO STADIUM

GFA Division One

Kercem Ajax vs Xewkija T.        15.00

FEBRUARY 25

GOZO STADIUM

GFA DIVISION ONE

Sannat L. vs Kercem Ajax          19.00

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