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BOV Division One

Lack of chance conversion ‘story of the season’, says Tarxien Rainbows coach

Tarxien Rainbows finished all-square against Swieqi United over the weekend. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Four-straight goalless draws

The BOV Challenge League returned from the final international break of the year last weekend as the second tier heads into its final two months of the first round.

Pressure is beginning to rise as the second round will divide the league into the Top Six and the Relegation Pool. While the teams at the have been close to perfect so far, teams like Tarxien Rainbows will need to find a scoring spark to climb up from midtable and secure their safety.

On Saturday, the Rainbows finished with a goalless draw against Swieqi United, another side away from the top six places so far, and coach Jacques Scerri believes converting their chances has been their drawback this season.

“(The match) was day and night,” Scerri told the Times of Malta, “we were not playing well in the first half, and Swieqi were better than us, but the second half was total domination from us and we had chances but didn’t take them.

“Unfortunately, it’s been our Achilles’ heel as we dominate our matches but don’t convert our chances. It’s been the story of the season so far, but once again, in terms of performance, I definitely cannot fault the players. They gave their all but, as we know, there is a very fine margin between a draw and a win, and luck has not been on our side.

“At the end of the day, the performances and chances we’ve come up with have not been converted into the three points.”

Tarxien are currently going through what appears to be a scoreless-draw streak with their last goal coming in a 4-2 victory over Attard back in October. Since then, they’ve played four matches, all finishing 0-0.

Scerri referred to this phenomenon as something “I’ve never encountered in my career, not even as a player” and believes that apart from a lack of goals, his team’s synergy is improving.

“It’s very strange. The statistics show that we are the team with the most possession in the league. In terms of that, everything is as should be for us and we also don’t concede many goals. Our problem has been not converting our chances,” he said.

“Against Zebbug we had 69% possession and 21 shots on target, but we didn’t score anyway.

“We started a bit shaky in the first two matches, but our synergy improved later on – something that was expected considering the difference in the squad until the players gel together.”

Close margins

The Rainbows are currently in 12th place on eight points after eight games, but they are just five points off the last Top Six spot currently occupied by Zurrieq. Asked about if they still believe in a chance for early safety, the former Balzan and Pembroke Athleta coach said the margins are very close and it could be anyone up there by the time the league is divided.

“First division is a particular championship. With two wins you’re up, with two losses you’re down,” he said, “It’s always been like that.

“The margins are very close so a five-point gap means we definitely believe, and we’ve shown we can be as good as any team out there. We dominated games and the effort and quality of the players has been was what required.”

Next up for Tarxien is a tough clash against runners-up Marsa, who are currently on a four-win streak and are the only still unbeaten side in the entire division. Orosco Anonam’s clan have been in inspired form so far this season but Scerri believes the approach from his team will be the same.

“We know we will be playing against a good team that is also in form at the moment,” he explained.

“We respect their qualities, but I have full confidence in our own qualities. I believe in my players and we know we can play against any team, so we’ll be approaching the game in the same way as usual – by going for the win and those three points. While we respect our opponents, we believe we can do it.”

RESULTS

Pieta H. vs Senglea A.     0-1

Tarxien R. vs Swieqi Utd 0-0

Marsa vs Zebbug Rangers             2-0

Msida SJ vs Zejtun C.                       0-4

St Andrews vs Melita      0-3

Luqa SA vs Fgura Utd      0-3

Zurrieq vs Attard              1-1

Zabbar SP vs Lija A.          1-0

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