Enjoying a slight edge in craft, Sliema managed to pull away from Marsaskala in the last session of yesterday’s second match. There was little between the two teams in the first three sessions even if in Jerome Gabarretta the Blues always had a winning card, his three goals evidence of this.
Earlier a bod display from Marsaxlokk fell short of causing Sirens some embarrassment as they were forced to grind out the result in the last session.
The two matches folded on close lines during the first three sessions.
Sliema took an initial 2-0 advantage but soon Marsaskala got back into the scheme of things as Liam Grixti and Jake Ciantar both scored for the South Seasiders.
Matthew Mifsud and Jamie Gambin netted their first goals to open a 4-2 lead for Sliema but Marsaskala levelled soon.
It was cat and mouse from then on until late in the third session. Sliema restored their two-goal cushion twice before Paul Privitera and his team-mates took their opponents by the scruff of the neck.
Before the end of the third session, Sliema nosed 7-6 ahead courtesy of John Brownrigg’s goal.
However, Sliema, once more led by Jerome Gabarretta and relying on thoroughbreds Nicholas Bugelli and Mizzi, rose to their responsibilities in the last session to pull away decisively.
In the opening match, Sirens got the verdict over Marsaxlokk to start off the right foot in Group B. They made sure of victory in the last session which they won 4-2.
Sirens went ahead but Marsaxlokk came back to take a 2-1 lead in the first quarter.
The Northenders levelled matters soon after the restart with another goal by Matthew Sciberras.
Despite Sirens’ more frequent attempts at goal, the equilibrium was always evident.
Marsaxlokk proved hard to shake off but Sirens nosed ahead in the middle sessions.
The Southseasiders fumbled in front of Owen Gauci while Sirens grew taller as time went on.
Opportunistic goals from the fast-improving Matthias Azzopardi emulated by equally valid goals from Isaiah Riolo, gave Sirens the necessary oxygen in the last session.
(2-1, 0-1, 0-1, 2-4)
Marsaxlokk: B. Busuttil, M. Pace, S. Stellini, M. Martellaci, S. Busuttil 2, L. Saliba, J. Galea, K. Cremona, Z. Micallef, R. Scerri 1, M. Cacici, J. Portelli, F. Buhagiar, L. Mallia 1, K. Cauchi.
Sirens: O. Gauci, M. Grech, K. Erdogan, J. Sciberras, J. Zerafa Gregory, G. Farrugia, M. Sciberras 2, I. Riolo 2, J. Napier, G. Mellilo, L. Caruana, M. Azzopardi 3, G. Galea Curmi, T. Said, L. Falzon.
Refs S. Licari, R. Magri.
(3-2, 2-2, 2-2, 5-0)
Sliema: N. Grixti, J. Gabarretta 3, L. Galea, M. Meli, B. Cachia 2, N. Schiavone 1, M. Mifsud 1, J. Brownrigg 1 , J. Gambin 2, N. Bugelli 1, Z. Mizzi 1, Z. Sciberras.
Marsaskala: J. Micallef, JC Cutajar, A. Camenzuli, P. Privitera 1, G. Sammut, L. Grixti 1, K. Navarro, M. Manara 2, S. Micallef, L. Felice 1, J. Ciantar 1, M. Carani, A. Muscat, G. Galea, D. Camilleri.
Refs: M. Angilieri, R. Spiteri.