San Ġiljan survived an all-mighty scare as the Saints needed a last-gasp goal to overcome a battling Sliema side and regain top spot in the Premier Division standings, preserving their unbeaten status in the process.
The match turned out into a real nail-biter with Sliema fighting back from two goals down to level matters late on but it was the Saints who struck at the death to prevail 13-12 and move three points clear of nearest rivals Neptunes.
San Ġiljan fought back from a goal down in the opening session as Jamie Gambin was directed to the man-down cage and Matthew Zammit scored San Ġiljan’s first man-up situation.
Marko Jokovic made it 2-1 with a bullet from 11 metres out before Jeremy Abela anticipated his marker to push the ball in.
Zach Mizzi scored at either end of San Ġiljan’s goal as Sliema trailed 3-2 at the end of the first session.
At the start of the second session, Jayden Cutajar scored a spectacular goal to draw level. Jeremy Abela put San Ġiljan back in front, once more on a man-up situation but Elijah Schembri made it 4-4.
The Saints centre-man was doing a lot of spade work for his side in the Sliema area.
In fact, Abela earned a five-metre throw from which Jokovic scored. Dmitrii Kholod broke his barren spell but Aaron Younger immediately netted to maintain San Ġiljan’s edge over Sliema before the ends were changed.
Nikolai Zammit potted goal number 7 but San Ġiljan failed to administer their advantage wisely. First, Andrija Prlainovic surprised Jake Tanti with a close-range shot and then, Benji Cachia made it 7-7.
Mizzi, in fine form for Sliema, and Gambin equalised every time Younger put San Ġiljan ahead.
Jokovic tried to pull the strings together for the Saints with two late goals as San Ġiljan maintained a stranglehold on the match before the start of the final session.
The goals kept alternating in the final session with Sliema falling behind by two goals again as Plumpton replied to Cachia’s goal.
But once again San Ġiljan let their two-goal cushion slip with Mizzi reaching his poker of goals and Dino Zammit with a quick shot brought the scores level at 12-all.
At this point, up-and-coming Sliema goalkeeper Andrew Bugeja showed great reflexes to keep out Zammit’s shot and then produced a fine one-handed save on Jokovic.
But the Sliema custodian could do nothing on Plumpton’s vicious shot to send the San Ġiljan supporters into rapturous.
In a match to determine which team would end as wooden spoonists in the Premier Division, Valletta put up a very good show to beat Marsascala who will thus finish at the bottom place in the standings.
Valletta kept their slim playoff hopes alive. However, the citizens need to beat Sliema next Tuesday and hope to receive help on Wednesday from Marsascala in their last match against Sirens.
Valletta made the perfect start to take a 4-2 lead at the end of the first session. They extended their lead to 6-2 before the change of ends.
Play was evenly balanced in a high-scoring third session which ended all square.
The last session was almost as productive in terms of goals with Valletta annihilating their opponents 6-2.
Birżebbuġa produced another dominant performance against Exiles to the extent that their 15-10 victory yesterday was no less than the South Seasiders deserved.
In Balazs Erdelyi, scorer of another five goals, Birżebbuġa again had their chief goal-getter.
However, it was a collective effort which had its core work done on the flank by the tireless Jacob Sciberras and an almost impenetrable rearguard led by Darko Brguljan.
Exiles succumbed to their super opponents when conceding three goals without reply after opening the scoring in the first session.
Birżebbuġa made it a 13-9 cushion with the last session left.
SAN ĠILJAN 13
(3-2, 3-3, 5-4, 2-3)
SAN ĠILJAN: J. Tanti, N. Bugelli, A. Galea, B. Plumpton 2, M. Jokovic 2, M. Zammit 1, J. Bonavia, A. Younger 2, J. Abela 2, N. Zammit 1, D. Zammit 1, R. Caruana, G. Borg, G. Bonavia, N. Bonavia.
SLIEMA: N. Grixti, J. Gabaretta, L. Galea, J. Gambin, Z. Mizzi 4, B. Cachia 2, J. Cutajar 1, M. Mifsud, J. Brownrigg, D. Kholod 1, A. Prlainovic, D. Zammit, A. Bugeja, E. Schembri 1, S. Engerer.
Refs: M. Sponza, R. Spiteri
(4-2, 2-0, 5-5, 6-2)
VALLETTA: B. Busuttil, J. Spiteri Staines, D. Rizzo, J. Cassar 2, S. Busuttil, A. Vlahovic 2, D. Paolella 1, I. Nagaev 7, S. Micallef, A. Agius 1, K. Borg 3, K. Cremona, A. Theuma, M. DeMarco, J. Chircop 1.
MARSASKALA: J. Muscat, JC Cutajar, G. Galea, P. Privitera, R. Greco, E. Manzi 2, K. Navarro, D. Tully, D. Pace Lupi 1, G. Sammut, J. Ciantar 5, M. Carani 1, A. Muscat, T. Sedmayerm, F. Scardino.
Refs: M. Angileri, S. Alfi.
(5-2, 5-5, 3-2, 2-1)
BIRŻEBBUĠA: M. Sladden, P. Borg 2, N. Cassar, B. Grech 3, D. Brguljan 4, M. Manara, S. Bezzina, D. Cutajar, B. Erdelyi 5, K. Tanti, G. Mannino 1, M. Curmi, C.D. Borg, J. Sciberras, D. Farrugia.
EXILES: M. Castillo, Z. Cutajar Licari, Z. Micallef, V. Gallo 3, G. Molina 3, N. Burlin, M. Fenech, K. Griscti 2, N. Paris 1, M. Martellacci, M. Aquilina 1, N. Saliba, F. Buhagiar, M. Paris Roding, L. Pursehouse.
Refs: M. Sponza, A. DeRaffale.
World Cup News
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday blasted as “insufficient” the apology given by...
Spain’s Women’s World Cup hero Olga Carmona paid tribute to her father on Monday...
Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso defended Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales after he came...
Sunday’s World Cup final between England and Spain is the final act of a...