N. Vella, I. Zammit (65 D. Agius), A. Monticelli (74 L. Micallef), M. Micallef, Jackson, C. Gatt Baldacchino, J. Galea, M. Gauci, D. Grima (86 S. Diacono), P. Teixeira Maia, H. Shola Shodiya (65 L. Grech).
R. Cini, J. Pearson, R. Grech (66 T. Agius), H. Kone, W. Domoraud (88 L. Grech), E. Callegari Torre, J. Walker, R. Darmanin (54 L. Bittaye), A. Bustos, T. Jammeh, T. Espindola (66 R. Scicluna).
Referee Stefan Pace.
Yellow card: Gauci, Galea, Kone, Domoraud.
Red card: Gauci (M) 84.
Sirens advanced to the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy after scraping past a resilient Marsa side in a hard-fought encounter.
Although there was never any doubt as to Sirens’ technical supremacy over the Challenge League leaders. Ian Zammit’s troops were not afraid to ruffle the feathers of the Northerners. In fact, Marsa were frustrated by Sirens 19-year-old goalkeeper Reeves Cini who produced a string of fine saves.
Cini, the son of former Valletta goalkeeper Reggie Cini was a surprise inclusion in Giovanni Tedesco’s starting XI. Lamin Bittaye and Ryan Scicluna started on the bench as the likes of Ryan Darmanin, Ryan Grech and Angel Bustos were selected for first-time duty.
This season, Marsa have bolstered their squad with a clutch of experienced players, including Manolito Micallef, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Dylan Grima, Jackson Lima, Haruna Shodiya and Patrick Teixeira Maia. These were all included in Ian Zammit’s starting formation.
Eight minutes into the match, Marsa broke away through Maia but his low shot was just wide. A minute late, Lima’s shot was kept out by Cini.
Cini was prominent again on 11 minutes when blocking a long-range shot by Shodiya.
Still Sirens should have opened the score when Ryan Darmanin received a perfect through-ball by Tamsir Jammeh inside the area but the Maltese striker was denied by Nicholas Vella.
Marsa were now seeking to unnerve their more-quoted opponents with swift long balls towards Maia and Shodiya.
Soon after the break, Hamed Kone tried his luck, shooting hard towards the near post from a freekick. Although Vella looked to have it covered, he let it slip through his grasp before being saved by his defenders who cleared away the danger.
At the other end, Cini, the Sirens goalkeeper, had to be alert to boot away a dangerous Lima freekick.
However, Kone broke the deadlock on 57 minutes when he weaved his way beautifully past a couple of defenders, before planting into the low corner.
Marsa finished the match with ten men after Matthew Gauci received the marching orders for two bookable offences.