Mqabba and Melita shared a point after a goalless draw at the Centenary on Sunday in what was a particularly uneventful match in the Challenge League Group A.
While Melita may feel hard done by after calls for a penalty late in the second half were disregarded, Mqabba coach Goran Adamovic believes the final scoreline is a fair reflection of the match.
“In the first half, we were doing what we had trained for during the week. However, we found it hard to find options for a goal because (Melita) were defending well, like we were,” Adamovic told the Times of Malta.
“We didn’t have a chance, except maybe one or two shots. But in the end, I think 0-0 is the correct result today.”
On the other hand, Melita coach Saviour Debono Grech was visibly distraught after the game due to his belief that his side was the better side and deserved more than a draw.
“As I interpreted the game, I believe we were superior to (Mqabba), especially in the second half where Mqabba practically didn’t have a shot at goal,” Debono Grech said.
“Also, in my opinion, I think we should have had a penalty, a clear penalty in my eyes and we even saw it from the other side of the pitch. But those are game situations we will have to accept. Today, Mqabba looked more compact but they were also more defensive, and luck was not on our side.
“The team is working hard but obviously we have to work harder because I expect us to win more points. In a game like today, luck wasn’t there but that’s football in the end. We will take the point and work for the next.”
Both sides remain level on points after Matchday Three with a win, a draw and a loss to each as they lie in fifth and sixth place, missing out on third place despite the fact that San Ġwann drew to Żejtun Corinthians the day before.
Melita are a side which boast many homegrown players. However, on the day, Mqabba saw ten players under the age of 21 make their way onto the pitch. Asked about this youth element in his squad, Adamovic explained that this was all part of his plan as a coach.
“When I came to Mqabba, I told (the club) that I want to work with young players because I want to have that young energy and players who listen and understand. So, it was my plan and we had 10 or 12 in the team today,” the Mqabba coach said.
“We’ve had a good preseason and now what I am doing with them is more mental than physical. I am trying to grow with them and work with them to become even better persons. Of course, it is difficult but for me it is a challenge and if we do what we have in our plan this year, I should be happy.”
The match was a pretty balanced affair with most of play based around the midfield. Both sets of players watched their step outside of their area with none of the goalkeepers being tested in the opening stages of the game.
Chances were at a premium despite Mqabba being clumsy in possession through misplaced passes.
The supporters in the stands were kept waiting until the second half to see a shot on target as Nigel Rizzo forced Mqabba goalkeeper Craig Abdilla into his first save after rushing into the area. Abdilla pushed his shot into a corner and will have to thank his stars after the resultant kick smashed onto the goalpost.
Mqabba’s reply came on the hour when Luka Mijic hit his side’s only attempt on target, a low shot from inside the area. However, battling to keep his balance while taking the shot, the ball was saved by Melita shotstopper Ryan Caruana.
Melita had another opportunity on 72 minutes when after a foul right outside the Mqabba box, Anderson De Barros hit a freekick which pinballed across the area but led only to a goalkick.
Late in the game, calls for a penalty by Melita’s bench and supporters were waved away by referee Ezekiel Barbara after
an alleged handball inside the area.
ŻEJTUN CORINTHIANS 0
SAN ĠWANN 0
NAXXAR LIONS 2
LIJA ATHLETIC 0
VITTORIOSA STARS 3
ST. GEORGE’S 1
MĠARR UNITED 1
SENGLEA ATHLETIC 0
SWIEQI UNITED 1
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 2
TARXIEN RAINBOWS 2
ST. ANDREWS 1
FGURA UNITED 2
LUQA ST. ANDREWS 2
PIETÀ HOTSPURS 0