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BOV Division One

No shortcuts in Hotspurs’ process, says Pietà coach Gatt

Pieta Hotspurs and Qrendi shared the points at the Centenary Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

QRENDI 1
PIETÀ HOTSPURS 1

Pietà Hotspurs will be ruing a late incident which saw a spot-kick deny them the three points on Sunday morning after an exciting 1-1 draw at the Centenary Stadium against Qrendi, with both sides hungry for the win.

While the Hotspurs looked more in control of the game, coach Paul Gatt believes it was not the best his clan could have given.

“I don’t think it was our best performance today in terms of our play, but I believe we were dominant throughout the game,” coach Gatt told the Times of Malta.

“If one were to watch the game again, (Qrendi) probably hadn’t many shots until the second half and the score is obviously the result of small moments of misunderstanding and where we could have closed the game earlier.”

Despite the sole point, he believes that focusing on playing with a team that has the division’s youngest average age is the way forward for the club.

“Pietà have always based themselves around their youth element and Gatt said it will always remain the club’s method.

“The fact that we play a lot of young players is not going to change because I think that is part of the club’s principal values and which should influence the way we play,” Gatt said.

“That is why I said that maybe I wasn’t very happy with the game. However, it is also the result of when you play with players who are less experienced, especially for consistency, even throughout the game. I think it makes a bit of difference which influences the final score.

“Even the past games against Luqa and Mġarr, the amount of chances we created eventually did not reflect in the final scoreline. This is part of believing in a way and it’s a process.”

Pietà climbed a step in the standings to fifth place despite the draw on Sunday, now on eight points, one ahead of Fgura United, Qrendi and Mġarr.

Asked about how difficult this inexperience is for a club within the division closest to the Premier League, Gatt said the plan is always to work hard and build confidence.

“The plan, like everything else, is something which you learn as you go along and with hard work, day in, day out on the pitch,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to this, but the players have the advantage that at 16/17 years old, they are playing and it comes with its pluses because we fear no one, but also with its minuses that sometimes when as a player, I shouldn’t put my foot in, I do and I might get a second yellow.

“It’s two parts of the coin and you work on it by giving the players confidence and working on the small details.”

Pietà made their intentions clear from the start as the former Malta U-21 James Scicluna made Qrendi goalkeeper Jonathan Vella work hard after just four minutes.

The young captain, who was instrumental throughout the game, met a diagonal throughball in his run on the right flank. The forward fired in a shot which after a deflection by Qrendi defender Luca Martinelli, was pushed away from danger by the outstretched Vella.

This incited great fighting spirit among the two sets of players and an entertaining encounter for those present as play was moved from box to box.

Scicluna nearly got his goal ten minutes later after another impressive play, intercepting a misplaced pass and making another run on the right, evading his marker but scuffing his shot.

Qrendi gained momentum with shots from Sebastian Perdomo and Romeu Romao but it was Pietà who looked most in control as their attacking trio of Scicluna, Yuto Morita and Hiroya Konno worked in sync.

However, it took the side until the 55th minute to open the score and it was veteran player Lee Galea who broke the deadlock after meeting a cross into the area which shot-stopper Vella was unable to fully block as the ball drifted in behind him. The ball was ‘cleared’ however referee Darryl Agius handed the goal to Pietà as the ball had crossed the goalline.

Despite conceding the goal, Qrendi did not back down and they were aided by the sending off of Zean Leonardi on 73 minutes, who received his second yellow card after a needless tackle right outside the area.

Gary Bugeja’s effort from the freekick was saved by Pietà goalkeeper Reeves Cini, who needed treatment after getting fouled in the process.

But it was not over yet for Qrendi as only three minutes later, they got the perfect opportunity to equalise from the spot.

Joseph Ogunnupe, influential for his side throughout the match, hit a through pass into the area, and chasing for the ball, captain Bydasser Sammut was pushed to the ground with the official having no choice but to point to the spot.

Ogunuppe stepped up and despite Cini guessing correctly, Qrendi were level on 76 minutes.

Pietà were close to scoring an identical goal to their opener with six minutes to go but substitute Brooklyn Borg’s header was stopped by Vella.

Scicluna then attempted what could have been the highlight of the game, as he dribbled past a number of Qrendi players and raced into the opposing half but missed his final touch under pressure as he entered the opponents’ area.

OTHER SCORES

GROUP A

MARSAXLOKK 3
MQABBA 1

PEMBROKE ATHLETA 2
ŻEJTUN CORINTHIANS 2

RABAT AJAX 1
ST GEORGE’S 1

SAN ĠWANN 0
MELITA 0

NAXXAR LIONS 3
VITTORIOSA STARS 0

GROUP B

SWIEQI UNITED 0
LUQA ST ANDREWS 0

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 2
ST ANDREWS 0

MARSA 5
SENGLEA ATHLETIC 0

MĠARR UNITED 1
FGURA UNITED 0

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