Neptunes, Valletta lead in play-offs
Neptunes Emirates and Valletta Dhalia procured a one-nil lead in the first of a three-match play-off, the former team playing against Sirens Ritter Sport in a match valid for the semi-final of the First Division title, while the City team were up against Marsascala meat.com for the Division Two honour.
As expected Neptunes were much too good for Sirens who were handicapped by the absence of their injured goalkeeper Joseph Sammut, substituted by young Nicholas Grixti.
The re-introduction of Jurgen Borg was a plus in the fate of this adversity. However, the northerners could do very little to stem the tide that was inexorably flowing against them from the second session onwards.
After conceding the first goal, the Reds soon shrugged an easy going look about them to score three times before Sirens closed the gap to 3-2.
The Balluta side, with the useful tandem of Edward Aquilina and Michele Stellini back in their team list, opened the throttle in the second quarter to take a 10-4 lead. Their ability to vary their play and open out on the flanks before applying the killer touch with precise passing and potent shooting was too much for Sirens.
Although there was a slump in the Reds’ scoring rate in the third session, they still kept the upperhand to stretch their advantage to 14-5.
More slick play and exquisite passing by the team guided by Sergey Markoch continued to be the order of the day as middle-order players and tailenders were introduced regularly.
Neptunes’ huge victory had never been in doubt.
Valletta took the southseasiders by storm in the first match of the day to defeat them fairly and squarly to the tune of 12-7, a result which should give them a mental boost in due of the next match tomorrow.
The team led by Anthony Farrugia from the bench had a flying start when taking a 4-0 lead before the southerners reacted to reduced the leeway to 4-2.
Valletta increased their lead to 7-4 by the halfway mark as they kept the edge over their opponents who had Milos Koralji well supervised.
With Robert Munkacy and Alessandro Di Somma supplying the fuel and craft as well as the bulk of goals when they each scored four times, the lead was extended to 9-4 by the end of the third session. The two Valletta foreigners continued to play the tune helping their team to a deserved victory.
(2-4, 2-3, 0-2, 3-3)
Marsascala : E. Arrigo, C. Spiteri De Barro 2, M. Pace 1, Mil. Koralji, S. Farrugia, D. Caruana, J. Licari 1, J. Cremona, S. Micallef, R. Scerri 1, D. Cassar, A. Zammit, Mih. Koralji 2.
Valletta : A. Sammut, G. Sammut 1, A. Di Somma 4, C. Bonello, R. Munkacy 4, S. Cachia 2, A. Galea, M. Camilleri, T. Agius, S. Cini, A. Arrigo, G. Ghirxi 1, K. Micallef.
Refs: M. Dalli, R. Spiteri.
(3-2, 7-2, 4-1, 6-2)
Neptunes : I. Bugeja, N. Lanzon 2, E. Aquilina 2, M. Stellini 1, J. Camilleri 2, K. Debattista, S. Camilleri 4, V. Gojkovic 4, B. Lanzon, S. Gravina, R. Sciortino, T. Molnar 5, M. Pisani.
Sirens : N. Grixti, A. Attard 1, P. Micallef, P. Borg 1, T.Kiss 1, R. Mock, J. Borg, D. Cutajar 1, G. Kristonosic 2, C. Zammit 1, L. Caruana, D. Zammit, C. Mercieca.
Refs: M. Angileri, R. Daniele.
Today: 5.15 p.m. Sliema vs San Ġiljan; 6.30 p.m. Sirens vs Neptunes.
Tomorrow: 5.15 p.m. Valletta vs Marsascala; 6.30 p.m. San Ġiljan vs Sliema.