After going down to Neptunes last Wednesday and conceding the first spot to their Balluta rivals, San Giljan were back to winning ways when they defeated Sliema by a three-goal margin in a match that produced 25 goals.
San Giljan cashed in on their opening man-up situations. Two goals, both on man-ups were scored by Ben Plumpton. Nicholas Bugelli made it 2-1 before the end of the first session.
San Ġiljan were banking on Darren Zammit to win exclusions from the centre as Dino Zammit restored their two-goal cushion. On the other side, Zach Mizzi converted Sliema’s first from three extra-man sets before Jake Bonavia found a gap on right to make it 4-2. At this point, Jamie Gambin found the net twice, in between Andreas Galea had increased San Giljan’s lead.
Goals continued to alternate in the second session with Dino Zammit and Galea replying to Gabaretta’s effort. Sliema continued to believe in themselves as Gambin closed the gap to one goal before the change of ends.
Quick goals at each end netted by Dino and Matthew Zammit for San Giljan and Mizzi and Mark Meli for Sliema kept St Julian’s slim advantage.
John Brownrigg made it 9-9 when he pushed the ball behind Ryan Coleiro after being teed up by Meli. Matthew Zammit and Andreas Galea, soon restored order for San Giljan. The efficient Galea, was proving his worth on the right flank as he potted goal number four with a cute shot. Bugelli closed the quarter on 12-10. That left Sliema with more than a glimmer of hope as the last quarter was about to start. But when Ryan Coleiro blocked Jerome Gabaretta’s penalty on 13-10, Fernandez ‘Beto’ Abella’s hopes of salvaging the game became more distant.
Galea capped his five-star performance with goal number five.
Earlier, Valletta took sweet revenge for their preliminary round defeat against Birzebbugia, to lower the colours of the southseasiders this time – 17-9.
Valletta started briskly and were seemingly in control. However, Birzebbuga fought back to reduce the arrears to 5-4 after Valletta’s flying 4-1 start in the opening quarter.
But Valletta regained the advantage before the third session ended, with two goals from Miguel Zammit on either end of the second session, two goals from veterans Niki Lanzon and Edward Aquilina, a second by Peter Borg and a goal by Keith Tanti. Max Borg and David Cutajar pulled two goals back to close the quarter on 14-7 for the citizens.
The last session was only a formality with Zoran Maslovar seeing his team ease off against the opponents who had long thrown in the towel.
In the first match, Exiles gave another clear demonstration that they will be the team to beat in this summer’s First Division championship after registering a comfortable win over Ta’ Xbiex. The Sliema team found little difficulty in easing past Ta’ Xbiex to the tune of 12 goals to six.
As the scoreline clearly indicated, Exiles were a cut above their opponents with Mark Fenech, Timothy Sullivan, and Nicky Paris, who scored nine goals between them, proving to be the main difference between the two teams.
TA XBIEX 6
(4-2, 3-0, 4-2, 1-2)
Exiles: M. Castillo, N. Saliba, T. Sullivan 3, S. Xerri de Caro 1, M. Fenech 3, K. Griscti 1, N. Paris 3, J Bajada 1, M. Aquilina, D. Fenech, G. Borg, M. Attard Bondi, E. Micallef.
Ta’ Xbiex: M. Vassallo, R. Greco, Z. Cutajar, J. Pace Mizzi, J. Cassar, M. DeMarco, J. Saliba 1, J. Cutajar 1, K. Borg 1, S. Azzopardi, E. Schembri, D. Rizzo 3, A. Theuma.
Referees: P. Balzan, A. Cavallini
(1-4, 4-3 2-7, 2-3)
Bbugia: M. Rossi, J. Farrugia 2, N. Cassar, D. Pace Lupi, D. Incorvaja, P. Serracino, S. Vassallo, D. Cutajar 3, M. Bonnici 1, M. Borg 1, R. Spiteri, S. Fava 1, L. Abela, G. Sammut 1.
Valletta: R. Sciortino, P. Borg 2, E. Aquilina 2, M Stellini, A. Agius 2, R. Mock 1, D. Paolella, M Zammit 2, N, Farrugia 1, N. Zammit 2, M. Mannino, N. Lanzon 4, B. Muscat, K. Tanti 1.
Referees: S. Licari, S. Pinato
SAN GILJAN 14
(2-1, 5-5, 5-4, 2-1)
San Giljan: R. Coleiro, D. Zahra, A. Galea 5, D. Fero, R. Caruana, M. Zammit 2, B. Plumpton 2, J. Bonavia 1, D. Ciantar, Darren Zammit, K. Galea, Dino Zammit 4, G. Vassallo.
Sliema: N. Grixti, J. Gabarretta 1, L. Galea, M. Meli 1, B, Cachia, N. Schiavone, M. Mifsud, J Brownrigg 1, J. Gambin 3, Z. Mizzi 2, N, Bugelli 3, Z. Sciberras.
Referees: M. Angileri, A. Cavalini.