Reds sweat it out for spoils
Marsascala pip brave Otters
San Giljan 10
(1-1, 3-3, 3-4, 4-2)
Any doubts that San Giljan Zara have come of age were quickly dismissed after yesterday's brave display which had their neighbours and the more-fancied Neptunes Vodafone fight to obtain maximum points.
In the end, the Balluta team took the points on the tightest of scorelines, but frankly the Saints deserved something better after showing spirit and maximum commitment throughout.
Once more, the Reds had Dubravko Simenc to thank for their victory as the Croatian at times took his opponents single-handedly. He scored five goals and was constantly orchestrating his colleagues.
The Reds looked off-tune for very long stretches with passes going astray and their shooting betraying signs of bluntness, except for the efforts of Simenc.
To their credit, San Giljan played in exemplary fashion, with their tight press choking the Reds. It was even almost throughout, scorewise, with Marco Cuk distinguishing himself with his deadly finishing. It was no surprise that he ended as his team's top scorer with six goals.
San Giljan were very much in the game and took the lead three times in the latter sessions after Neptunes had earlier twice taken a two-goal advantage on 4-2 and 6-4.
Everything was to play for with the final quarter starting with Joe Attard's team 8-7 ahead.
Goals alternated until 31 seconds from the end with the score 11-10 in Neptunes' favour.
At that point, San Giljan suffered a double dismissal allowing Neptunes to play out the remaining possession time without going for goal.
But what a sweat it had been for Neptunes!
Neptunes: N. Gouder, N. Lanzon 2, T. Agius, D. Simenc 5, E. Cachia, J. Brownrigg 1, S. Camilleri, L. Attard, D. Camilleri, K. Galea 1, A. Sammut, M. Stellini 2, M. Pisani.
San Giljan: D. Camilleri, C. Spiteri de Barro 1, A. Galea, J. Bonnici, I. Azzopardi, M. Zammit 1, M. Cuk 6, M. Pace, G. Ghirxi, S. Schembri, S. Borg 1, J. Xerri de Caro, K. Lanzon 1.
Refs: P. Balzan, E. Carannante.
(1-1, 4-1, 4-6, 4-4)
Marsascala Breakers were made to fight hard before finally pipping the brave Gozitan team Otters who were making their debut in this year's summer league after they bypassed the preliminary round.
Strengthened by Hungarian Marton Toth and Patrick Cachia, Otters fought bravely to keep within distance of their opponents.
The southseasiders' priority was to keep an eye on the strong Otters' recruit who was instrumental with his six goals in helping his team to pull back a six-goal deficit, particularly in the third session.
The climax was reached in the last part with the result hanging in the balance until the final seconds as Marsascala held possession to snub Otters' bold fight to salvage a draw.
Marsascala: I. Bugeja, J.C. Cutajar, S. Farrugia, R. Cutajar, M. Borg Spiteri, S. Popovski 1, P. Fava 1, R. Grixti 2, S. Micallef, M. Fava, A. Galea 1, M. Spiteri 4, D. Ciappara 4.
Otters: R. Grech, P. Cachia 1, G. Zammit, S. Grech 2, K. Mizzi, D. Saliba, P. Saliba 1, M. Toth 6, J.P. Buttigieg, S. Scicluna, D. Saliba, M. Tabone 2, E. Farrugia.
Refs: M. Angileri, M. Caruana.