Imperious Reds demolish Sliema
In previous years when only multi-round league matches were played without a top-heavy percentage-wise play-off system the team topping the table would have started easing off the champagne bottle cord long ago.
Such was the dominance of Neptunes Emirates this season that no one would have begrudged them the title of champions.
In yesterday’s match, valid only for statistics and prestige, and also as a morale-booster especially for Sliema McDonald’s, the Reds demolished the Blues in a show of class which had the impeccable Vladimir Gojkovic as the supreme primadonna,
The Blues could do nothing against their opponents, nevermind having long been denied of a couple valid players this season. Their only consolation, if that can be called so, is now the repechage system.
The Reds, also without Edward Aquilina, started solidly with their usual play opening on the flanks and extending their opponents’ rearguard. They led 4-1 after the first session with Michele Stellini scoring a brace and Steve Camilleri and Gojkovic netting the others. The Blues reduced the arrears temporarily on 2-1 through Mark Meli.
The Balluta team produced some exhilarating fare in the second session, with Gojkovic, Molnar, Niki Lanzon and Steve Camilleri running circles round the Sliema rearguard.
In no time the gap widened to 12-4 by mid-point with the contest as good as over.
Realising that zone cover was proving costly, Sliema shifted to rigid press. Meanwhile, Molnar eased his strict attention on Bogdan Rath.
With Neptunes 14-5 ahead the Blues went into submissive mood.
The third quarter ended with the Reds 15-5 in front with five of their players, Lanzon, Stellini, Steve Camilleri, Gojkovic and Molnar each scoring three times.
With the result a foregone conclusion a couple of fringe Neptunes players were put into the fray in the last session.
The Blues were then able to limit the damage, but not before Gojkovic reached a handful of goals and Sliema finally picking their spot on a penalty after missing a previous one and also five man-up sets.
In the opening game, Valletta Dhalia set the seal on the second of round-robin matches with a 14-9 victory over Ta’ Xbiex ASC.
The result matured mainly in the third session which the City team won 5-1. The Gżira outfit led 4-1 at the end of the first quarter.
A high-scoring second quarter produced eight goals with Valletta scoring five and trimming the leeway to a single goal.
Then came the volte-face as Anthony Farrugia’s team swept in front shortly after the change over for a 9-7 lead, later extended to 11-8 with a session to go.
With four-goal Tamas Gyrovath dismissed on the sum of expulsions, Ta’ Xbiex faced a tough task to save the game. Italian utility player Alessandro Di Somma, also scorer of a poker, could then lead the side to their comfortable victory.
Ta’ Xbiex 9
(4-1, 3-5, 1-5, 1-3)
Ta’ Xbiex: L. Borg, M. Paris, S. Vassallo, C. Cluett 1, J.C. Decelis, B. Muscat, T. Gyrovath 1, E. Bonello 1, M. Cordina 1, C. Saliba 1, M. Spiteri, Y. Szeles 4.
Valletta: A. Sammut, M. Asciak, A. Di Somma 4, M. Camilleri 1, R. Munkacsy 3, S. Cachia, A. Galea 2, K. Hyzler, T. Agius 3, J.C. Farrugia, A. Arrigo, G. Ghirxi 1.
Refs: A. De Raffaele, S. Licari.
(1-4, 3-8, 1-3, 4-3)
Sliema: R. Coleiro, N. Bonello Ghio, N. Lubrano, R. Fodor 3, M. Meli 2, J. Soler 2, D. Paolella 1, M. Spiteri Staines, C. Debono, M. Rizzo, B. Rath 1.
Neptunes: I. Bugeja, N. Lanzon 3, B. Lanzon, M. Stellini 3, J. Camilleri, Z. Mizzi, S. Camilleri 3, V. Gojkovic 5, K. Debattista, S. Gravina, R. Sciortino, T. Molnar 3, M. Pisani 1.
Refs: M. Dalli, D. Di Martire.
Playing on Tuesday
Division One: 17.45 Neptunes vs Exiles; 19.00 Sliema vs Sirens.