San Ġiljan win thriller
San Ġiljan Firetech won the right to meet Sliema McDonald’s in the Division One KO semi-final on Friday after beating Exiles Jet Services in a 27-goal thriller which was extended to extra-time yesterday.
Marco Risso’s team are to be commended for again emerging winners despite having threadbare resources due to suspensions. They even contrived to toss away a five-goal start, but their fighting qualities paid dividends.
They took their opponents by storm in the opening session with Exiles looking out of sorts despite a partial recovery late in this quarter.
Three goals from Marton Toth did most of the damage with the others coming from Andrea Bianchi, Edward Aquilina and Christian Gialanze. The reply came from Aurelien Cousin, twice, and Cosmin Bonca.
Exiles continued on their comeback route in the next quarter to the extent that they managed to level matters on 7-7 before San Ġiljan again edged ahead through the improved Gialanze. Toth had given the Saints a 7-3 cushion but Bonca, Timmy Sullivan, Kurt Grixti and the returning John Paris opened fresh hopes for Exiles.
The Saints shaded the next session 2-1, showing compactness at the back and more sharpness in the offensive phase.
Paris had again reduced the gap to 9-8 after Matthew Pace surprised Alan Borg Cole from eight metres. But Bianchi concluded good work from Gialanze to open a two-goal gap (10-8) before the start of the final quarter.
Exiles seemed to be close to victory when with 26 seconds to go they were 11-10 in front for the first time after Bonca had reduced the gap to 10-9 and Julian Rizzo Naudi scored twice for Exiles.
San Ġiljan lost three man-ups on the trot but Edward Aquilina’s distant shot in the dying seconds squirmed through the hands of Borg Cole and so it was to extra-time.
Aquilina’s 12th goal for the Saints was neutralised by Bonca but Paul Fava made it 13-12.
Paris equalised in the last mini-session before Toth netted the winner and his fifth goal with a superb backhand.
It was a nail-biting affair all the way.
Marsascala Solid Base Engineering booked a place in the Second Division knock-out final, to be played on Sunday afternoon, at the expense of Otters Nivea when they registered a 13-10 victory.
The match developed along comfortable lines for the southseasiders whose lead alternated between two and three goals after Otters had taken an early 2-1 lead.
In the final reckoning, five-goal Milos Koralji made all the difference between the two sides.
San Ġiljan 14
(3-6, 4-2, 1-2, 3-1 – 1-2, 1-1)
Exiles: A. Borg Cole, J. Rizzo Naudi 2, S. Vassallo, C. Bonca 4, T. Sullivan 1, M. Calleja, J. Paris 3, K. Grixti 1, A. Zarb Cousin, A. Cousin 2, A. Cachia, S. Cini, K. Lanzon.
San Ġiljan: K. Schembri, A. Galea, M. Pace 1, A. Bugeja, C. Gialanze 2, K. Dowling, H. Nossek, A. Bianchi 2, E. Aquilina 3, A. Borda, P. Fava 1, M. Toth 5, J. Ebejer.
Refs: M. Angilleri, D. Isaeli.
(3-2, 4-3, 3-3, 3-2)
Marsascala: R. Sciortino, J.C. Cutajar 1, B. Szabo 1, M. Koralji 5, M. Spiteri 3, L. Grixti, J. Licari 1, J. Cremona 1, S. Micallef 1, T. Agius, D. Cassar, G. Pace, S. Farrugia.
Otters: A. Sciberras, G. Attard 2, M. Galea Pace 1, Z. Radocz 3, D. Schembri 1, P. Szabo, K. Scicluna, D. Saliba, C. Saliba, M. Kristoff, A. Arrigo 1, A. Zammit, K. Grima Scott 2.
Refs: R. Spiteri, I. Sciriha.
Division Two KO semi-final – 5 p.m. Marsaxlokk vs Ta’ Xbiex. Division One semi-final – 6.30 p.m. Sirens vs Neptunes.