TARXIEN RAINBOWS 1
It is common knowledge that the Challenge League has always been a highly-competitive league.
This season, competition has been at its best, considering that a number of players with Premier League experience have also joined the second tier of Maltese football.
As a result, one may imply that the level of play has increased, and the perfect example was indeed Marsa’s 1-1 draw against Tarxien Rainbows over the weekend.
Enzo Potenza, the Marsa coach, had words of praise for his players who have according to him, shown professionalism through their play.
“At this moment, I believe I have to thank my players for the effort and commitment that they are showing,” coach Potenza told the Times of Malta.
“After today, we will still have to evaluate many things because it must be done, but I believe that the boys are doing many important things right, not only the big names that people say decide everything – names do not mean anything on the pitch.
“There are things we need to improve but I believe that these players are showing they are a strong group and that they are not here simply for the paycheck, but are showing that they are professionals and so, I thank them for what they are doing.”
Tarxien, who have also formed a strong squad with hope of returning to the Premier League after their relegation at the end of last season, needed time to gel.
Coach Steve D’Amato explained that despite what was for him a slow start, the team is now at its best.
The Rainbows are in second place on 16 points, three below leaders Pietà Hotspurs.
“I believe we started slowly, even in our friendlies,” D’Amato told the Times of Malta.
“We took some time to get going because we had many new players – in such a situation, you need time. In fact, in the first four matches of the league, we only managed a win and three draws.
“However, as the season went by, the team has gelled more, and we’ve started to see the best of our team – we’ve won three consecutive matches and I feel we are now in our best form.”
For D’Amato, it was a match which could have seen either side win and he believes “it was a fair draw”. Potenza, however, was not so convinced as he believes Marsa were the more dangerous side and deserved more.
“Today, for me, there was only one squad on the pitch and that was Marsa. There are other teams that can win the league this year, but I think today we must accept a result which is not the right one- shots hitting the crossbar, annulled goals and so many saves by the goalkeeper.
“But congratulations to Tarxien who managed to tie the game. I believe they are a strong squad that will do well by the end of the season but today, I believe Marsa deserved much more.”
The match at the Victor Tedesco Stadium took on an electric atmosphere with both sides bringing with them numerous supporters.
Beyond the stands, both sides cancelled out each other throughout the first half-hour, with the first real threat coming from Marsa’s Amadou Samb when from a counterattack, Tarxien goalkeeper Jurgen Borg had to stretch and block the one-versus-one attempt.
Tarxien replied with a Darren Falzon shot from distance which Marsa shot-stopper Andrea Cassar dived to parry away for a corner.
The Rainbows suffered an early setback as forward Saturday Nanapere was forced off through injury, replaced by Daneel Abela late in the first half.
After the break, the game took on a fiery tempo and within nine minutes, Marsa had a ‘goal’ annulled for offside when Andre Scicluna’s shot hit the crossbar and Samb hit the rebound first time with the ball finishing into the net.
Luca Brincat was close to scoring for Marsa two minutes later but his shot from in front of goal went wide off the mark.
Tarxien replied yet again through Falzon who had another opportunity but skied his effort.
However, Marsa broke the deadlock on 68 minutes. Ryan Darmanin, who had only come on as a substitute six minutes prior, rose for a header which dipped over Borg and into the net. This was a deserved lead for Marsa who had been pushing for a goal throughout the entirety of the half.
However, the goal seemed to galvanise Tarxien who began to fire at will and by the 82nd minute, they had regained parity.
Falzon capped a positive performance when unmarked in a counter, he was ready to pounce on a rebound from a shot that was too strong for Cassar to hold onto and fired into the net.
NAXXAR LIONS 1
RABAT AJAX 0
SAN ĠWANN 0
ST GEORGE’S 1
LIJA ATHLETIC 1
PEMBROKE ATHLETA 1
ŻEJTUN CORINTHIANS 2
SWIEQI UNITED 1
ZEBBUG RANGERS 0
MGARR UNITED 0
FGURA UNITED 0
PIETÀ HOTSPURS 1
SENGLEA ATHLETIC 1
LUQA ST ANDREWS 0
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