Emphatic win gives Blues the lead
(1-1, 1-3, 2-3, 1-6)
By virtue of their 13-5 victory over Neptunes Emirates, in yesterday’s Winter League championship play-off, Sliema McDonald’s took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
If the Blues go on to repeat this impressive performance tomorrow they will have won this pre-season honour for the seventh time and three occasions in a row.
Their total commitment to reach this objective was very evident despite the relatively low-key feature of the game.
Sliema opted for very stringent press to unsettle their opponents to the extent that they rendered the Reds nervous. This ploy proved expensive for Sliema in the way of expulsions but Neptunes, yesterday with coach Sergey Markoch back on the bench, were found wanting in extra-man sets, scoring one from seven and also missing a penalty.
A low-scoring first session, in which two goals were shared, was followed by Sliema making it 4-2 by the half-way mark.
The sprightlier Blues increased their advantage when shading the third session 3-2, only to go on the rampage in the final quarter.
But not before Nikolai Lubrano and Michele Stellini were dismissed with substitution after a flare-up. This followed a penalty miss by Stellini who kept claiming he was hard-done by the referees.
NEPTUNES: I. Bugeja, N. Lanzon 1, E. Aquilina 1, M. Stellini, Z. Mizzi, G. Pace, J. Camilleri, K. Debattista, B. Lanzon, S. Gravina 1, T. Agius 1, S. Xerri de Caro, C. Mercieca 1, R. Sciortino, L. Ellul.
SLIEMA: R. Coleiro, C. Cluett, N. Lubrano 1, P. Privitera 2, M. Meli 4, J. Soler 1, D. Paolella 2, J. Brownrigg, C. Debono 2, M. Cordina, M. Rizzo, M. Spiteri Staines 1, Z. Sciberras, M. Agius, M. Fenech.
Referees: M. Dalli, S. Licari.