ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 3
GUDJA UNITED 0
F. Marchetti, L. Montebello (90 T. Zammit), J. Mbong, E. Freitas (72 Ederson), Y. Nenov, U. Duranovic (67 Jonny), O. Bjelicic, S. Paintsil, C. Rutjens, N. Krstic, R. Camenzuli (67 JC Corbalan).
F. Lehtinen, A. Brenner, J. Quintero (72 G. Lorenzoni) F. Mango, S. Chukwuemeka (72 M. Conti), R. Nanitelamio, Z. Grech (63 N. Tabone), A. Friggieri (63 S. Attard), M. Esposito (77 J. Attard), G. Joseph.
Referee: Emanuel Grech.
Yellow cards: Duranovic, Rutjens.
Ħamrun virtually secured their place in the FA Trophy quarter-finals within 25 minutes of their Last 16 match against Gudja United.
Goals from Elionay Freitas and Luke Montebello ensured Gudja would not progress beyond the last 16 stage.
When substitute Eder added a third in the dying minutes, the contest was already over, with Gudja left to play only for pride.
Luciano Zauri predictably restored goalkeeper Federico Marchetti in goal ahead of Henry Bonello, while he fielded a strong formation with a three-pronged attack made of Montebello, Seth Painstil, and Uros Duranovic to confirm his intention to attack Gudja with a high tempo start.
And Zauri’s team selection reaped the first dividends inside the first five minutes when Elionay Freitas coolly slotted past Felix Lethinen after Painstil’s brilliant pass from Yulian Nenov’s corner split the Gudja defence.
Considered by Premier league strugglers Gudja as a dress rehearsal for next Sunday’s league match, the last 16 tie between two sides separated by 32 points in the league, at the start of the game looked to be heading for an easy win for Ħamrun.
After 25 minutes, Ħamrun made it 2-0 as Montebello continued his record of practically scoring in every match this season. Painstil found the striker in space and Montebello hit a crisp, low drive into the bottom corner of the goal.
The Spartans dominated the firt half with a no-nonsense hard-tackling midfield with Nenov outstanding.
Gudja found it hard to carve out chances although their best of the first came from a free-kick. Aidan Friggieri took it with Marchetti pushing the ball around the right post.
After the interval, Ħamrun relaxed their grip on the game but Gudja could not take advantage and force their way back into the game.
In the second half, Rodrigue Nanitelamio came face-to-face with Marchetti but referee Emanuel Grech blew the whistle for offside when he was about to pull the trigger.
This decision did little to raise their spirits.
At least, it motivated Ħamrun to produce two good opportunities for Montebello to add to his goal tally but the striker could not convert the chances.
At death, Painstill floated an excellent ball for Jonny who saw his effort blocked by Felix Lehtinen but Eder made no mistake from the rebound.
Gudja lost this match before they had settled into it and must now concentrate on avoiding the drop.
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