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Early goals keep Sta Lucia in top-flight after Playout win

Santa Lucia's Nicholas Pulis (left) shoots at goal ahead of a Clyde Borg challenge. Photo: Domenic Aquilina


Nwoko 2

Hehedosh 19



M. Calleja Cremona, M. Vella, N. Pulis, R. Bairam (90 E. Camilleri), K. Nwoko (90 L. Mckay), L. Bah (90 J. Carbone), J. Tanti (65 S. Xuereb), D. Xuereb, J. Pisani, R. Soares, R. Hehedosh (76 R. Farias).


C. Farrugia, N. Ghio, C. Borg, R. Fenech (90  D. Tabone), J. Brincat (83 K. Farrugia), A. Oularbi, N. Spiteri (90 C. Buttigieg), J. Yepez Morlets, K. Attard (71 K. Scerri), R. De Fex, D. Xuereb (90 C. Hin Cheng).

Referee Fyodor Zammit.

Yellow card Bairam, D. Xuereb.

Santa Lucia put on a dominant display as they eased past Challenge League side Żejtun Corinthians in Friday’s play-out match to secure their place in the Premier League for another season.

It was a dominant performance from Enzo Potenza’s team who needed just 20 minutes in the first half to put themselves well in control of the match as goals from Kyrian Nwoko and the impressive Robert Hehedosh put them on their way to a comfortable victory.

Sta Lucia fully deserved the win as they were a cut above their opponents and will surely feel relieved to have completed the job of staying in the Premier League, in a season where they struggled for consistency, particularly in the first part of the campaign.

However, the team grew in stature in recent weeks and their efforts were sealed with this win that keeps them in the top flight for a fourth successive season.

Santa Lucia could not have hoped for a better start as inside two minutes they were already a goal ahead.

Hehedosh ran behind the Żejtun defence and his shot was deflected just wide. But from the ensuing corner, taken by the Ukrainian striker, Kyrian Nwoko reacted first to fire the ball into the net.

Żejtun were rattled and Santa Lucia struck a second goal on 19 minutes.

Robert Bairam played a fine throughball towards Hehedosh who sped clear and chipped the ball over the onrushing Christopher Farrugia, the Żejtun goalkeeper.

Hehedosh almost struck again on 27 minutes when the Ukrainian forward was again put clear, this time by Liam Blie Bi Bah, but this time his angled shot hit the sidenetting to the relief of Żejtun.

Just past the half-hour mark, Blie Bi Bah had a golden chance to make it 3-0 when the Ivory Coast midfielder beat his marker to connect with Dexter Xuereb’s cross but he directed the ball just over the bar.

Żejtun finally threatened ten minutes from the break when David Xuereb battled his way past two opponents but his shot was deflected into the hands of Calleja Cremona.

Nine minutes from the break, Dexter Xuereb picked up a short clearance but rifled his shot just wide.

David Xuereb remained Żejtun’s main source of danger and just before the break, he looked odds on to pull a goal back but was denied by a fine intervention from Rodolfo Soares.

Żejtun improved after the break and on 53 minutes they came agonisingly close to pulling a goal back when James Brincat’s effort from a free-kick was somehow kept out by Calleja Cremona.

The Saints were playing with fire and on the hour mark Blie Bi Bah miskicked his clearance with the ball falling to Brincat who fired over.

At the other end, Nwoko played in the steaming Jurgen Pisani who was denied by Farrugia.

Żejtun tried to reopen their match but the Sta Lucia defence held on to complete the season in style.

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