Exiles win thrilling game
Victories for Marsaxlokk, San Giljan
Exiles Pender Gardens and Marsascala 7Up were involved in a thrilling contest which the former won by the slimmest of margins.
Without doubt the duel was a credit to the game with the players extending themselves in the best sporting spirit.
A closely-fought first session had Marsascala taking a 3-2 advantage which was extended to 5-2 early in the second quarter. Exiles narrowed the gap to 5-4, after which a momentary 6-4 lead for the southerners was whittled away as Exiles made it six-all before the teams changed ends.
It was ding dong in that second session, Exiles forging ahead five times only to be caught up on every occasion as ten goals were exchanged.
That pattern was maintained until Marsascala nosed ahead on 13-12. Still it was nail-biting fare as Dirk Dowling's team overturned the scoreline for a 14-13 victory.
Fabio Valenti, six goals, Aurelien Cousin, five goals, and John Paris, four goals, were the scoring protagonists.
In the afternoon's first match, Marsaxlokk Freeport just got the better of Ta' Xbiex Mermaids Paradise, who had trounced Otters a week ago.
The team from the south started briskly and were 3-1 up by the end of the first quarter. Although they only stretched that lead by just another goal before ends were changed, Marsaxlokk looked the more confident outfit, with Sergei Frolov's danger always conspicuous. The Bielorussian player went on to net six of his team's nine goals.
Ta' Xbiex, who had Peter Paolella, another veteran, back in the team, closed in on 8-6 in the third session and kept fighting in the final quarter only for Marsaxlokk to hold out for a minimal victory.
San Giljan Zara registered an expected easy victory over Otters in the second encounter with the goals coming at regular intervals.
Ian Azzopardi's team powered their way to a 6-1 lead in the opening session after which they continued extending that advantage throughout the match.
Otters' misery was further compounded by the forced retirement of their top-scorer Stefan Grech who was injured after a few minutes. But that made little difference as San Giljan looked far too strong for the Gozitans and sealed their victory on a big 19-4 scoreline.
Ta' Xbiex 8
(3-1, 2-1, 3-4, 1-2)
Marsaxlokk: A. Sammut, G. Attard 1, R. Calleja, A. Farrugia, K. Farrugia, C. Bugeja, E. Pisani, D. Schembri, S. Frolov 6, K. Grima Scott 2, G. Ghirxi, G. Zammit, R. Bonnici.
Ta' Xbiex: A. Tanti, S. Meli 1, M. Manara 1, M. Galea Pace 2, C. D'Ugo, K. Sciortino, M. Camilleri, R. Polacik 3, J. Tabone, K. Engerer, C. Sciortino, J. Vella, P. Paolella 1.
Refs: A. De Raffaele, P. Balzan.
San Giljan 19
(6-1, 4-1, 6-1, 3-1)
San Giljan: K. Schembri, C. Spiteri de Barro 1, A. Galea 2, C. Bonello, E. Cachia 1, M. Zammit 6, M. Cuk 7, J. Bonnici, D. Camilleri, M. Pace, S. Borg, J. Xerri de Caro 1, K. Lanzon 1.
Otters: R. Grech, D. Saliba, G. Zammit 1, S. Grech, S. Cutajar, D. Saliba, P. Saliba, F. Bajada, K. Mizzi, C. Saliba, I. Simon 3, S. Xerri, E. Farrugia.
Refs: R. Spiteri, M. Caruana.
(3-2, 5-5, 3-4, 2-3)
Marsascala: I. Bugeja, J.C. Cutajar, A. Galea, M. Borg Spiteri 2, L. Grixti, F. Valenti 6, K. Enriquez, S. Micallef 1, R. Cutajar 1, D. Cassar 2, M. Spiteri, D. Ciappara 1.
Exiles: N. Imbroll, M. Galea, M. Zarb, D. Pace Lupi 1, T. Sullivan 1, G. Desira Buttigieg, J. Paris 4, J. Cremona 1, K. Grixti, A. Cousin 5, A. Arrigo, A. Borg Cole, M. Calleja 2.
Refs: M. Dalli, I. Sciriha.
Saturday, July 7:
6 p.m. Marsaxlokk vs Otters
7.15 p.m. Ta' Xbiex vs Exiles
Malta coach Pierre Borg yesterday announced a squad of 13 players who will be travelling to Manchester to take part in the Men's European 'B' Championships between July 8 and 15.
The squad: J. Cachia, M. Meli, J. Soler (all Sliema); N. Lanzon, S. Camilleri, M. Stellini (all Neptunes); P. Privitera, K. Montfort, C. Mercieca, P. Fava, J. Borg (all Sirens); I. Bugeja (Marsascala); M. Zammit (San Giljan).