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Hotspurs’ patience key to Marsaxlokk win says Spiteri

Pietà needed a late goal to overcome Marsaxlokk. Photo: Stephen Gatt


Pietà Hotspurs were made to wait until the final minutes to grab the three points in a close 1-0 win over Marsaxlokk at the Centenary Stadium on Monday.

With scoring opportunities hard to come by throughout, it was Diego Segura’s shot from distance which made the difference as Brian Spiteri’s clan rose to ninth in the Challenge League standings on 10 points.

The Hotspurs now stand within two points of the southseasiders, who may have looked slightly more productive during the evening but could not find a breakthrough.

Pietà coach Spiteri praised his side’s commitment to “that one action which could change everything” and believes the players were ready to counteract the technical set-pieces that Edgar Degabriele’s Marsaxlokk players are known to deliver.

“During half-time, I told my players ‘today is very close and one play could change the game’ and in reality, that is what happened,” Spiteri told the Times of Malta.

“Marsaxlokk have invested a lot into their team while we focus on the youth element which means you need to have patience and time for them. Sometimes they will have a performance in which they’ll be doing well but one thing changes everything.

“Something we worked very hard on was (Marsaxlokk’s) set-pieces. They’ve got players who are capable of putting in great deliveries. In their last game, they had a substantial amount of corners so we worked hard on primarily avoiding them and if not possible, we can defend them in a good way.”

The Hotspurs have not yet made the impact which can put their minds more at ease in a season which will see five teams relegated into the Amateur League at the end of the season, especially after having gained only seven points in as many games before the win against Marsaxlokk.

“The league this year is much more difficult than usual and even if you have all the experience in the world, no one knows what’s going to happen,” Spiteri admitted.

“Before, we used to manage to calculate how many points one needs to safeguard his place for the next season, but in this situation, the league for me is a bit confusing – maybe not making much sense also. But we’ve got regulations which we need to follow in order to play.”

Marsaxlokk took the first chance of the match after just three minutes with an attempt from Josuel Spiteri which went over and while Pietà tried their luck from a Neil Pace Cocks freekick after 15 minutes, there was much to be desired from both sides as the match fell into a lull until the break.

Similarly to the game’s opening, Marsaxlokk took the first chance of the second half but this time, missed an opportunity of a lifetime which one could say might have cost them the game. After a misplaced lob from a Pietà defender, Peter Xuereb dribbled both his marker and goalkeeper Miguel Chetcuti only to hit a shot well over from close range.

Pietà reacted with another Pace Cocks free-kick which went slightly wide.
However, until after the hour, it was Degabriele’s side which looked more likely to go in front.

This was until Juan Pablo Morales received his marching orders for a second yellow card with 15 minutes to go.

In fact, it took Pietà 10 minutes to exploit that numerical advantage as Segura received the ball right outside the area from the flanks with his back to the goal but had enough time to turn and fire into the bottom corner with Marsaxlokk shot-stopper Fredrick Tabone stunned.

With confidence sky-high, Pietà nearly made it 2-0, three minutes from time but Tabone was alert to stop Segura’s throughball from reaching an unmarked Caetano Ze Lucas.

PIETÀ: M. Chetcuti, S. Okoh, L. cassar Jackson, M. Portelli, N. Pace Cocks, D. Segura, C. Bouvet, C. Ze Lucas, Z. Leonardi (66 J. Ghio), J. Irimiya, J. Scicluna (90 G. Borg).
MARSAXLOKK: F. Tabone, C. Degabriele, J. Morales, N. Ghio, P. Doffo, I. Paz, J. Spiteri, B. Sciberras (85 D. Cartella), P. Xuereb, R. Sammut (90 D. sammut), R. Fenech (74 G. Barone).
Referee: Daniel Portelli
Red card: Morales (M) 73.
Best player: Josuel Spiteri (Marsaxlokk).



VITTORIOSA STARS: R. Marmara, C. Spiteri, I. Curmi (70 L. Gauci), G. Sultana (95 J. Pace), J. Farrugia, D. Sowatey, A. Galea, R. Previ, A. Oularbi, R. Farias (95 A. Sultana), D. Borg Castaldi.
QRENDI: D. Zarb (59 C. Abdilla), L. Martinelli, J. Busuttil, E. Vella, D. Azzopardi (82 N. Pabon), A. Agius, S. Perdomo, C. Camilleri, D. Sammut (59 L. Schembri), M. Gatt (95 S. Schembri), D. Bueno.
Referee: Slawomir Olucha
Scorers: Curmi (V) 55; Gatt (Q) 83.


ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS: M. Grech, S. Bugeja (56 G. Azzopardi), J. Micallef (46 A. Mizzi), T. Bartolo (56 K. Vella), L. Mijic, C. Gauci, R. Vella, S. Miloskovic (78 A. Benjelloun), G. Gesualdi, K. Tanti, J. Carbone (83 A. Azzopardi).
SWIEQI UNITED: J.C. Debattista, I. Micallef, J. Magri Overend (68 D. Borg), S. Elfarsi, J. Micallef (83 L. Zammit), I. Salis (62 J. Willy), A. Schembri Wismayer (83 T. Ayorinde), M. Ivanovic, C. Cutajar, F. Temile (83 M. Camilleri), J. Azzopardi.
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Scorer: Salis (S) 1, 45; Temile (S) 58; Mijic 90.
Red cards: Tanti (Z) 39; Grech (Z) 76.

(abandoned after 62 mins due to power cut)


ST GEORGE’S: J. Azzopardi, M. Caruana, R. Mandic, L. Agius, L. Bonett, D. Caruana, S. Darmanin (87 A. Gili), C. Ekeh (87 D. Serna), J. Grech (46 R. Tanti), O. Magro, B. Gomes.
FGURA UNITED: B. Bartolo, J.P. Attard, J. Barbara, S. Borg (54 T. Grech), J. Cassar (70 S. Hili), C. Gandini, G. Martin, S. Nanapere (38 G. Galea), N. Ojuola, J. Stensen, J. Vella.
Referee: Ezekiel Barbara.
Red cards: Gomes (S) 50; Gandini (F) 86; Barbara (F) 90.


NAXXAR LIONS: O. Borg, M. Fenech, M. Mifsud, E. Ferreira (82 T. Battaglia), A. Azzopardi (88 J. Sciberras), R. Cassar, J. Ellul (88 R. Mercieca), F. Zuniga, S. Meilak, B. Schembri (78 A. Azzopardi), E. Farias.
MQABBA: M. Buhagiar, G. Mannino (83 N. Falzon), R. Cauchi, J. Castano, K. Cutajar, R. Cutajar (59 C. Cutajar), R. Spiteri (59 B. Sciberras), D. Micallef, G. Cesani (83 O. Khatib), G. Bugeja (43 L. Farrugia), G. Micallef.
Referee: Aleksandar Jovanovic.
Scorers: Schembri 5; Ferreira 11.


PEMBROKE ATHLETA: P. Schranz, K. Farrugia, D. Sant, K. Frendo (81 A. Marshall), J. Ogunuppe (66 J. Etim) P. Santos (81 N. Grech), A. Temitope, T. Fenech, J. Bajada, G. Attard, K. Aquilina (72 M. Brincat).
SAN GWANN: C. Formosa, J. Bowman (66 N. Abouaisha), D. Fava, C. Gauci, P. Kanzurov (85 D. Mifsud), O. Spiteri, Z. Bowman (85 N. Sultana), A. Zammit; C. Omoruanzoje (51 A. Falzon), C. Gauci, U. Umeh.
Referee: Stefan Pace.
Scorers: Santos (P) 12 pen.; Kanzurov (S) 35; Formosa (S) 66 og; Temitope (P) 75.

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