Pedrinho’s goals sink Qormi
Balzan Youths 2
Pedrinho 84, 90;
Balzan striker Pedrinho scored a dramatic late brace as Balzan saw off Qormi following a dominant second-half display yesterday.
It was rough justice for Qormi who started positively, forcing Balzan goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri into a string of smart saves as Ivan Zammit’s side struggled to create chances. In the second half, Balzan improved but Qormi seemed set for a draw until Pedrinho decided to run a personal show with two wonder goals to seal victory.
Officials from Macedonia took charge of this match as part of a twinning agreement signed between the Malta FA and their Macedonian counterparts.
Faton Mustafi was referee, Dejan Kostadinov and Andrej Giev his assistants. Dejan Jakimovski was the fourth official.
Qormi were forced into making two changes from their last outing against Birkirkara. With Luke Sciberras and Stuart Duff missing through suspension, Jeffrey Chetcuti and Dino Cachia were both slotted into the midfield area.
On his part, Zammit brought back Clifton Ciantar, after serving a two-match ban, to replace the not fully-fit Miguel Ciantar who started on the bench.
Qormi looked the far more cohesive of the two sides and, with the midfield area congested, made early inroads down the flanks.
In the sixth minute, Joseph Chetcuti supplied a teasing cross-cum-shot from the right that flew tantalisingly across the face of goal but found no takers.
On the other side of the pitch, Pedrinho ignited panic in the Qormi defence when his shot was rebounded back off a defender’s chest and as Stephen Azzopardi’s side struggled to escape from their area, the ball was passed out to Bledjon Guga who fired over.
The match descended into a dour midfield battle with Qormi lumping long balls towards Abubaker Bello-Osagie who had to win aerial battles scrapping for the ball using his strength and power to engineer chances.
That was until the 24th minute when Camilleri was forced to touch Wellman’s low drive past the post after the ball took a strange bounce on the ground.
Yet, Qormi were limited to long-range strikes and Jorginho and Jonathan Bondin each put in efforts which Camilleri easily blocked.
Zammit’s thoughts on Balzan’s first-half performance were reflected in his bold decision to make a double substitution when he replaced Bernardes and David Grima with two strikers, Kris Bright and Ciantar.
But this double change failed to alter the flow of the game as Qormi turned up the pressure after the break and Camilleri made a crucial stop to deny Joseph Chetcuti.
The closest Balzan came in the second period was a bullet shot from Pedrinho that beat Steve Sultana but finished just wide.
But it was soon back to the wall for the Youths as Matthew Bartolo teed up with Bello Osagie who cracked a shot against the outside of the post after 55 minutes.
The nippy midfielder was exerting midfield control and his burst into Balzan’s half saw Jorginho’s low drive just evading the target on the hour mark.
Azzopardi’s side lost their impetus midway the second half. The Youths began to enjoy spells of pressure but Qormi defied them with some determined blocks.
With six minutes remaining, jinking run by Bright was beaten out irregularly by Roderick Sammut and from the ensuing free-kick Pedrinho struck a shot high into the net.
Any hopes of a Qormi recovery were ended in stoppage time when Pedrinho deceived Sultana with a delicate chip after a solo run.
Balzan Youths: M. Camilleri-7, R. Farrugia-5, B. Guga-6.5, R. Forace-6, Y. Camilleri-6.5, N. Tasic-6.5, L. Bernardes-5(46 K. Bright-6), D. Grima-6, Pedrinho-8, C. Ciantar-5.5 (63 J. Bondin), D. Fenech-5 (46 M. Ciantar-5).
Qormi: S. Sultana-5, R. Sammut-5, M. Bartolo-7, S. Wellman-7, K. Scicluna-6, J. Bondin-6.5, Jorginho-4.5, A. Bello-Osagie-6.5 (60 C. Sammut), D. Cachia-5, Jos. Chetcuti-7, Jef. Chetcuti-5.5.
Referee: Faton Mustafi (Macedonia FA).
Yellow cards: Jef.Chetcuti, Tasic, Pedrinho, Wellman, Sammut
BOV player of the match: Matthew Camilleri (Balzan Youths)