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Rabat Ajax’s quick return to the Premier League in 1989-90

1989-90 should have been the season of St George’s FC. 

That season, the Saints were celebrating their hundred year anniversary and everybody expected them to make a serious effort to win the First Division Championship and gain promotion to the Premier League on this special year.

However, as it turned out, the Saints were the most disappointing team of the season. 

They tried to offer a serious challenge to the title contenders but a series of shoddy displays made them lose any hope of celebrating the centenary of their foundation in a more fitting manner. 

At the end, St George’s could only finish in fourth place, eight points behind Birkirkara and Mosta, who finished in the runners-up spot.

As it happened, 1989-90 turned out to be the season of Rabat Ajax and Birkirkara who made a quick return to the Premier Division after a lapse of only one season.

Relegated the previous season after a series of play-offs with Hibernians and Naxxar, Rabat swallowed their disappointment and gave it all they had to make a quick return to the Premier League. 

Rabat won the championship with very little difficulty but Birkirkara had to play a decider with Mosta before they could regain their senior league status.

Rabat started the competition like a house on fire. 

They won their first five matches and by the halfway stage they seemed to have the title in the bag. 

At that stage however, overconfidence stepped in and for a while their prospects seemed jeopardised.

Fortunately for them, Rabat recovered quickly from this setback. They started winning again but they had to wait until their final match to assure themselves of what at one stage appeared to be a foregone conclusion.

At the end, they managed to pip the championship crown from the hands of their opponents with just one point.

Birkirkara recovered well from a bad start and when they beat Rabat in the second round, they went on to share second place with Mosta Athletics.

A decider was necessary to select the team to accompany Rabat in the Premier Division.

The deciding game between Birkirkara and Mosta was a keen affair but at the end, the more experienced team won the day.

Birkirkara showed from the start their determination to regain their place in the Premier League.

The game had hardly started when Patrick Fenech rose high to head home splendidly from a corner-kick.

Mosta did not seem to have a reply for this set-back and they left their opponents to do the early running.

Then, in the 35th minute, Jesmond Cardona centred perfectly into the heart of the Mosta penalty area where Simon Sammut was ready to slip the ball past Mosta’s goalkeeper Sciberras.

In the second period, Mosta made a late effort to get back in the game but their efforts were not enough to change the situation.

At the end, the whistle of referee Charlie Zerafa found Birkirkara still enjoying their two-goal lead.

At the other end of the table, another battle for survival raged on between Mqabba, Senglea, Gudja and St Patrick’s. 

The latter were the first to throw in the towel. 

The team from Żabbar went through a disastrous season, only managing to win a single game, and they ended their campaign with only seven points to show for their efforts.

The battle between Mqabba, Senglea and Gudja was much more intensified.

Mqabba were the first to pull through to safety leaving Senglea and Gudja to battle on for survival.

At the end it was Senglea who managed to survive with just one point over Gudja.

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