Kerċem Ajax, Xewkija Tigers off to a winning start
The 2021-22 GFA season got under way last weekend with the opening matches from the GFA Division One.
This season, the Gozitan top division will be contested by eight teams and will be played over three rounds.
From what we witnessed on MatchDay One it seems like the teams have shown signs of improvement, particularly due to changes in the competition’s rules that will see each club make use of four overseas players.
The opening match of the campaign saw two of the main protagonists in Gozitan football go face to face as Nadur Youngsters, who were crowned champions in 2019-20, played Għajnsielem, the team who was topping the standings last season before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the championship to a halt.
In the end, Nadur and Għajnsielem shared four goals in an entertaining encounter that neither side deserved to lose.
Nadur enjoyed the better start, and deservedly forged ahead when Ederson’s shot from outside the area flew into the net.
The Blacks fought back to level matters on 31 minutes through Igor Nedeljkovic.
Għajnsielem kept pushing forward in the final stages of the first half they went in front through Dejan Galic following a good move by Nedeljkovic.
Nadur saw more of the ball after the interval and their efforts were rewarded on 79 minutes when Judivan Flo Da Silva scored the equaliser after receiving from Stefan Cassar.
Għajnsielem finished the match with ten men when Keith Borg was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Victoria Hotspurs started their bid to force their way among the title challengers with a 1-1 draw against Sannat Lions.
This was a disappointing result for both sides, particularly Sannat Lions who failed to make the most of having two more players on the pitch for much of the match.
The Hotspurs took command early on and opened the score on 25 minutes with a fine header by Andrea Debrincat.
On 43 minutes the Citizens had Jason Pace sent off for a second bookable offence.
Sannat soon seized their numerical advantage as they levelled matters courtesy of a tap-in by Lucas Silva Gomes after just 35 seconds into the second period.
Eight minutes into the second half, the Hotspurs ended with nine players when Kakra Boakye-Mensa was sent off for a rough tackle on Fabian Xuereb.
Both sides kept pushing forward in search of a winner but the result remained unchanged.
Xewkija Tigers obtained a hard-fought 2-1 win over Oratory Youths.
Oratory showed the better play during the first half and were unlucky not to take the lead on 14 minutes when a lob by Pablo Vinicius Moraes Ferreira was stopped by the post.
Xewkija came out for the second half in a better shape and opened the score on 56 minutes through Rafael Rodolfo Da Silveira, who was at the right place to fire home following a short clearance.
The Youths had a good reaction and on 69 minutes Joao Vitor Ferrari Silva levelled the score with a header following a corner action.
Four minutes later, Oratory were reduced to ten men when Ferrari Silva was sent off for a second bookable offence.
The Tigers took full advantage of the situation and on 86 minutes they scored the decisive goal when they were awarded a penalty when Rodrigo Ost Dos Santos handled the ball inside the area and Joseph Vella converted from the spot.
Kerċem Ajax also had an excellent start to the new season as they earned three deserved points following an impressive 4-1 win over SK Victoria Wanderers.
The hero for Kerċem was striker Joshua Buttigieg who scored a hat-trick.
The first half ended in a goalless draw as the Kerċem strikers were erratic in front of goal.
On the other hand, the Wanderers were denied from opening the score by Kerċem goalkeeper Gaetano Bugeja on at least three occasions.
Kerċem took full command of play in the early stages of the second period and took the lead on 56 minutes from an own goal committed by Nicholas Grech following a cross form the right flank.
The Ajax doubled their lead on 69 minutes through a low drive by Joshua Buttigieg after receiving from Wesley Simeao Dos Santos.
The same striker added another goal five minutes later with a first timer following a clearance inside the area by Victoria’s defence.
In the first minute of stoppage time, the Wanderers scored a consolation goal through a lob by Sam Harland.
A minute later Joshua Buttigieg sealed the win by scoring the fourth goal with a close-range shot following a cross by Nathaniel Mercieca.
GFA DIVISION ONE
PLAYING ON FRIDAY
Victoria H. vs Nadur Y. 19.00
Xewkija T. vs Sannat L. 18.00
Għajnsielem vs SK Victoria 18.00
Oratory Y. vs Kerċem A. 19.00