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BOV Division One

Naxxar, Swieqi still unbeaten leaders as Luqa get first win in Challenge League

A battle for the ball in the Mqabba area on Sunday. Photo: Wally Galea

Naxxar Lions preserved their unbeaten start to the season after cruising past Lija Athletic. Swieqi held onto their own run with a close win over strugglers Senglea earlier in the day, as newcomers Luqa St. Andrews got their first win in the division after more than forty years with a fine victory over Pieta’ Hotspurs to close off the week’s games. The Times of Malta looks at the weekend’s matches across the Division’s two groups…

GROUP A

George Vella’s Naxxar side have yet to conceive a goal this season after three consecutive victories, the latest coming on Saturday against Lija Athletic in a 2-0 win at the Centenary Stadium.

The side has been revitalized over the summer and looks like one of the teams to beat. On the contrary, Lija’s big-spending summer has not reaped its rewards yet as the side sits a point above last-placed St. George’s and is as yet looking out of sorts.

On Saturday, Naxxar went ahead just before the half-hour mark through Gilberto Carrara before sealing the deal with a Jurgen Debono goal in the final moments.

Vittoriosa stars registered the largest scoreline of the group this weekend as they beat neighbours St. George’s. Neither side of the Cottonera derby has had the best of starts but it was Vittoriosa that took their first win on Sunday with a final score of 3-1.

Vince Carbonaro’s men were forced to play most of the game with ten men after goalkeeper Ryan Marmara was sent off after just five minutes with a straight red card. However, this was no bother as they went ahead through Quincy Bregman and again with a goal from Daniel Sowatey, before Hugo Santa Rosa Cruz put Vittoriosa up by three before the break. Gianluca Sultana scored one for the Cospicua side from the spot, but this was not enough as Vittoriosa held onto the three points.

Close encounters ensued throughout the rest of the group as Marsaxlokk drew 1-1 to Rabat Ajax after goals from Jeremy Delmar for Marsaxlokk and Larens Vella on the opposite side.

Zejtun Corinthians and San Gwann could not exploit Pembroke Athleta’s ‘bye’ fixture as they ended the weekend in a goalless draw.

Similarly, Melita and Mqabba could not find the net in a game that lacked goalscoring opportunities, despite calls for a Melita penalty late in the game.

GROUP B

Swieqi United and Qrendi remain unbeaten in group B as leaders Swieqi beat Senglea Athletic, who can’t seem to catch a break so far this season, 1-0 on Saturday. Qrendi cruised past Mgarr United 3-1 earlier on Friday.

Coach Rodney Bugeja’s clan are yet to concede this season and made sure of their win early on in their match against Senglea with a Johan Castano goal after just six minutes.

Joseph Ogunuppe was the start for Qrendi as he scored two to end all hopes of a second consecutive win for Mgarr after Bydasser Sammut opened after three minutes and Gabriel Archaval equaliser four minutes later.  

Luqa St Andrews stopped in-form Pieta’ Hotspurs in their tracks this weekend as Edmond Lufi’s men scored two without reply on Sunday. Skipper Lydon Sciberras scored first on the stroke of halftime before substitute Joshua Micallef closed off the encounter with a second goal.

Tarxien Rainbows will have Ricardo Faria to thank after he brought his side back from two goals down with a strike at both ends of the two halves to counter goals from Randall Vella and Travis Bartolo for Zebbug Rangers as the game ended at 2-2 on Saturday.

Fgura United have put past them their opening day loss to Swieqi United as they are now on a two-game winning streak after Sunday’s 2-1 win over St. Andrews. Rafael Conrado Prudente was the hero for Kevin Vella’s side as he put the game to bed in the second half after having his opening goal cancelled out by St. Andrews’ Alan Borg Olivier on the half-hour.

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