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Desira hails tired but persistent San Ġwann

San Ġwann scored a second-half goal to overcome Swieqi. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier


Newcomers San Ġwann extended their unbeaten run into seven games with a close 1-0 victory over Swieqi United on Sunday.

The Yellows, who now top the standings with four wins and three draws, did not look the strongest after 45 minutes, but Jean Paul Desira’s clan turned things around after the break and got their winner through an Owen Spiteri goal.

Desira told the Times of Malta that considering the stress coming with the condensed fixture list, his team had to take things slow.

“In the first half, we came out in our usual 4-2-3-1 formation and we tried to be calm due to the fact that the team was very tired,” the San Ġwann mentor said.

“This was our fifth game in a row with just three days in between and basically, all our opponents so far have had at least a day’s rest. So that was a disadvantage for us.

“Looking at how the game progressed, in the second half we matched their 3-5-2 formation and we saw that we could actually take something from the game. After the interval, I think we were much better and also more persistent.”

While it is unusual for newly promoted sides to start off so brightly, Desira is taking things slow and sticking to his plan – to stay as far away from relegation as possible.

“Our first aim is to stay in the division, then we’ll see where we are and take it game by game,” Desira said.

“With five teams dropping (to the Amateur League) this year, it is useless trying to plan things so early on. The important thing is to take things as they come and get as many points as we can.

“What’s good so far is we haven’t lost a game in seven.”

San Ġwann started shakily at the Victor Tedesco Stadium as Swieqi captain Mirco Vella nearly scored with his first touch right from the kick-off as his shot, deflected by a defender, sent Saints goalkeeper Cain Formosa the other way but the ball finished just wide of goal.

Rodney Bugeja’s Swieqi side appeared more powerful than their counterparts, getting numerous chances to open proceedings but San Ġwann somehow managed to keep the ball away.

Right before the break, however, Desira’s side looked to have switched on in attack as they got their first shot on target two minutes from time.

Pressure was on Swieqi once again after the change of ends and the Yellows made it count right after the hour.

A counter-attack took the ball towards the Swieqi area and after a low cross missed both shot-stopper Edward Gatt and a crowd of Swieqi defenders, the ball fell to an unmarked Spiteri who did not have much to do but tap the ball into the empty net.

The fight escalated both on the pitch and in the stands as commotion set off between both sets of team delegates as they needed to be separated just as ten minutes later, the Yellows nearly made it two.

San Ġwann were continuously growing in confidence and it was a last-second punch of the ball off his line by Gatt that stopped a shot from afar, which dipped just in time, from going in.

The league leaders had one more chance at the death as Andrea Zammit, the youngest player on the pitch, went on an explosive run, beat the onrushing Gatt and tipped the ball towards the goal.

Luca Mallia eventually hit the ball into the net but the ‘goal’ was annulled for offside.

But that little mattered as San Ġwann held on for the win.

SAN ĠWANN: C. Formosa, J. Bowman (77 N. Abouaisha), L. Mallija, C. Gauci, O. Spiteri, Z. Bowman, A. Zammit, C. Omoruanzoje, C. Umeh, G. Pace, A. Falzon (54 P. Kanzurov).
SWIEQI: E. Gatt, I. Micallef, J. Micallef Overend (80 K. Micallef), S. Elfarsi, J. Willy (58 F. Temile), I. Salis, M. Vella, M. Ivanovic (69 T. Ayorinde), A. Shaw (80 T. Bonello), C. Cutajar (80 K. Muscat), J. Azzopardi.
Referee: Alex Johnson
Best Player: Andrea Zammit (San Ġwann).



ST GEORGE’S: J. Azzopardi, M. Caruana (80 A. Gili), R. Mandic, L. Bonett (87 A. Hili), D. Caruana, B. Gomes, S. Darmanin, L. Agius (87 R. Tanti), O. Magro, C. Kelechi, J. Grech (65 F. Lufi).
MARSAXLOKK: F. Tabone, C. Degabriele, JP. Mifsud Triganza, P. Morales (73 D. Cartella), I. Paz (54 P. Doffo), J. Cabral, D. Sammut, B. Sciberras, C. Brincat, P. Xuereb (73 M. Borg Bartolo), R. Fenech (54 J. Spiteri).
Referee: Daniel Portelli.


VITTORIOSA: R. Marmara, J. Briffa, I. Curmi (75 K. Pace), L. De Melo (75 A. Oularbi), G. Sultana, J. Farrugia, A. Mumford (46 I. Abela), A. Sultana, D. Sowatey, R. Farias, D. Borg Castaldi (91 S. Grech).
MQABBA: J. Grech, N. Falzon, G. Mannino, R. Cauchi (53 D. Micallef), J. Castano, K. Cutajar, R. Cutajar, R. Spiteri, K. Borg (82 L. Farrugia), G. Cesani, G. Bugeja (82 C. Cutajar).
Referee: Darryl Agius.
Scorers: Farias (V) 56; Castano (M) 69.


ŻEBBUG RANGERS: M. Grech, S. Bugeja, J. Micallef, T. Bartolo, A. Mizzi (59 K. Tanti), L. Mijic, C. Gauci, R. Vella, L. Gatt (59 C. Vella), G. Gesualdi, J. Carbone (83 A. Azzopardi).
PIETÀ HOTSPURS: M. Chetcuti, S. Okoh, L. Cassar Jackson, N. Pace Cocks (64 S. Pisani), J. Ghio (64 J. Irimiya), D. Segura, C. Bouvet, C. Ze Lucas, S. Mizzi, Z. Leonardi (84 J. Scerri), G. Borg (66 M. Portelli).
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Scorers: Carbone 8; Gatt 25.
Red card: Scerri (P) 94.


QRENDI: Dunstan Zarb, C. Camilleri, L. Martinelli, S. Schembri, B. Muscat (85 M. Gatt), A. Nilsson (57 D. Sammut), D. Bueno (85 Dylan Zarb), E. Vella, S. Perdomo (65 A. Agius), D. Azzopardi, L. Schembri.
FGURA UNITED: B. Bartolo, J. Stensen, J. Barbara, JP. Attard (57 R. Zammit), T. Grech (85 S. Abela), G. Martin (57 G. Galea), S. Nanapere, J. Vella, J. Cassar, N. Ojuola, D. Qunitero (70 S. Hili).
Referee: Ezekiel Barbara.
Scorers: Camilleri (Q) 4; Nilsson (Q) 48; Nanapere (F) 59; Schembri (Q) 86 pen.; Gatt (Q) 93.


ST ANDREWS: N. Grima, M. Muscat, M. D’Alessandro, M. Bartolo, R. Micallef Decesare, J. Farrugia, J. Sixsmith, S. Cassar Torregiani, M. Vella Vidal (81 Z. Muscat), A. Borg Olivier, D. Jackson (81 J. Valletta).
QORMI: J. Vella, R. Caruana (61 D. Camilleri), O. Sidibe (74 L. Azzopardi), N. Gauci, I. Zammit, I. Mizzi, N. Meli (46 C. Farrugia), L. Mallia, A. Oliveira (18 C.
Debattista), L. Farrugia, D. Perassolli.
Referee: Slawomir Olucha
Scorer: Farrugia 38 pen.

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