Mqabba want to fly as high as possible in the Challenge League following a huge 3-2 over Melita last Saturday.
They had gone from looking like relegation fodder to possible mid-table marvels.
After registering just one point from four matches heading into the festive period, results started to pick up for Mqabba with 12 points in the last six matches.
“We’ve got to keep the momentum going, keep performing like we are and who knows what will happen,” Mqabba coach Goran Adamovic said.
“We already have the youngest squad in the league. My philosophy is to give our homegrown hopes time to shine. Yet, we need to be consistent. Even today, after going two goals up, we suffered two goals from set-pieces. At the end, we made a great reaction to grab all points,” he explained.
Adamovic believes his side can break into the top four of the Challenge League.
“In the period before Christmas, I looked at the table and I told the squad, we can finish as high as fourth in the table. Today, we are just three points adrift of the fourth spot. I told my players to stop looking behind our shoulders,” he added.
As a newly-promoted team, a mid-season place in the top half of the table should surely satisfy Melita.
However, this is not the case for coach Saviour Debono Grech who believes his team did not perform well against Mqabba.
“We did not perform well on the day. At this point, we cannot go back and start all over. We need to haul ourselves out of this crowded mid-table pack,” Debono Grech insisted.
“This is a crucial period for Melita. We will now meet St Georges in a double-header (league and Trophy) and then face Lija, all in the space of six games. We need to make sure that mistakes committed today are avoided in the future,” he added.
A cagey opening period saw both sides begin cautiously, and it was almost 30 minutes before anyone got a decent shot on goal.
In fact, on 28 minutes, Luka Mijic briefly glimpsed the goal following a fine move involving Omar Khatib but Ryan Caruana blocked his shot.
At the other end, Noel Omondi should have scored with a close-range header, only to see Jesmar Briffa clear the ball off the line.
Mqabba gradually gained a foothold in the game. Three minutes from half-time, Gabriel Mannino opened the scoring with a neat run into the box and when goalkeeper Caruana and Michael Galea collided, he slid the ball into the net.
Melita’s defence was breached five minutes into the second half when Ronald Makalysten Melo Costa drove a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
At this point, Mqabba thought they had a stranglehold of the game.
Instead, it provided the backdrop to a Melita comeback. Jean Pierre Attard brought the Amateurs back into the game immediately when he stole in between the Mqabba defenders to power his header beyond Craig Abdilla. And more was to come. On 68 minutes, Matthew Debattista made it 2-2 with an exquisitely struck free-kick.
Yet, Mqabba won it when Mijic raced on to a superb through ball, beat the offside trap and chipped brilliantly past an advancing Ryan Caruana to clinch the points for Mqabba.
MQABBA: C. Abdilla, J. Briffa, O. Khatib, G. Mannino, R. Spiteri (86 S. Kind), J. Azzopardi (65 Cilia Mumford), L. Mijic (90 T. Veronese), J. Busuttil, J. Vella Critien, R. Mela Costa, L. Musu.
MELITA: R. Caruana, M. Debattista, M. Cachia, J. Attard, N. Cutajar (78 M Desira Buttigieg), J. Galea, J. Abela (64 A. Mizzi), H. Konno, A. Messina, N. Omondi, N. Rizzo (17 E. Falzon).
Referee: Jason Portelli.
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