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Hibernians face tricky Nadur Youngsters test in FA Trophy

Hibernians striker Erjon Beu tries to control the ball agains Sliema Wanderers. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

The FA Trophy takes centre stage in midweek when the 12 Premier League sides make their first appearance in the competition when they are in action in the third round.

Hibernians and Mosta are the first two Premier League sides who will be in action on Tuesday evening.

The Paolites, currently Premier League leaders, have a tricky start to the competition when they face GFA Division One leaders Nadur Youngsters at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

Stefano Sanderra’s team will be firm favourites to progress, not only because they will be ġlaying on their ‘home’ turf but also on the back of their consistent performances this season which has seen them open a commanding lead at the top of the Premier League and are the only unbeaten side in the Maltese top-flight.

Nadur have been equally in impressive form this season as the Youngsters have taken the GFA Division One by storm as they have been the dominant force, opening a commanding 11-point lead at the top of the standings after 12 matches.

However, it remains to be seen whether the Youngsters will have enough quality and firepower to deny the Paolites.

On the other hand, Mosta will start as firm favourites to progress when they face Luqa St Andrews at the Centenary Stadium.

The Blues have been a revitalised side since the turn of the year as back-to-back wins against Balzan and Sta Lucia has seen them move out of the relegation zone.

Joe Grech’s team are likely to prove too strong for a Luqa St Andrews side who have struggled for form in the Challenge League.

Holders Balzan and neighbouring rivals Valletta and Floriana will make their Trophy debut on Wednesday.

Balzan, the last team to win the FA Trophy in 2019, will be keen to make progress in the KO competition, particularly as they are coming from a poor run of form which saw them pick just one point from their last three league matches.

But the Reds will be wary of a potential tricky tie when facing a Pieta Hotspurs side who are enjoying a fine season in the Challenge League and look well placed for promotion in the Premier League.

Valletta will be desperate for a morale-boosting victory against Marsaskala, particularly when one considers their poor run of form in the Premier League where they are coming from two successive defeats.

On the other hand, Floriana are in rich vein of form as Gianluca Atzori’s men have been the revelation of the 2021-22 season and it’s no surprise they have emerged as the main challengers for Hibernians in the Premier League.

The Greens will be confident to surpass the first hurdle

when facing Gozitan side Għajnsielem who seem to have lost their way this season after a bright start to the season.

The plum fixture of the third round will be played in Thursday when Premier League rivals Sirens and Sta Lucia will go head to head at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

The two teams have so far had contrasting fortunes this season with Sirens, fresh from their league win over Valletta, aspiring for a place in the Championship Pool while Sta Lucia face a relegation dogfight and no doubt top-flight survival will be at the top of the agenda at the moment.

FIXTURES

PLAYING ON TUESDAY

TONY BEZZINA STADIUM

Hibernians vs Nadur Y.              18.30

CENTENARY STADIUM

Mosta vs Luqa SA         20.30

TEDESCO STADIUM

Melita vs St George’s  21.00

PLAYING ON WEDNESDAY

CENTENARY STADIUM

Marsaskala vs Valletta 17.00

Gudja United vs Swieqi             21.00

TEDESCO STADIUM

Marsa vs Tarxien R.     21.00

TONY BEZZINA STADIUM

Balzan vs Pietà Hotspurs          19.00

NATIONAL STADIUM

Floriana vs Għajnsielem           18.30

PLAYING ON THURSDAY

CENTENARY STADIUM

Ħamrun S. vs Naxxar L.             11.00

Sliema W. vs Vittoriosa             15.00

Birkirkara vs Fgura       19.00

TEDESCO STADIUM

Żejtun C. vs Xewkija    16.00

TONY BEZZINA STADIUM

Sta Lucia vs Sirens       19.00

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