Sliema turn tables to clinch title
Blues make it four winter championships in a row
Neptunes Emirates 8
Sliema Mcdonald’s 9
(1-4, 3-4, 1-1, 3-0 – Sliema win series 2-1)
It was again topsy-turvy in the match to decide the destination of the 2012 Winter League title, yesterday.
This time, it was Sliema McDonald’s turn to invert the tables on Neptunes Emirates when winning by a close margin of 9-8 to clinch their seventh winter title and their fourth in the last four years.
The Blues were worthy winners, not the least for their solid game at the back and their opportunism in their offensive stints, particularly in the opening sessions.
Neptunes lacked fluency early on and only came good in the latter sessions but they just fell short of their intent of saving their faces.
Nicky Lubrano set off the Blues to a flying start with a brace as both teams went for semi-zone cover. Sliema held firm at the back, warding off their opponents’ approx-imative attempts at goal.
Two breaks punished the Reds further for the first session to close on 4-1.
Playing without John Brownrigg, Sliema kept bossing the proceedings against oppo-nents unable to provide adequate cover at the back, especially when shielding the opposing centre from the front.
The 4-3 scoreline in the Blues’ favour made it an 8-4 lead at mid-point.
With Ryan Coleiro playing a blinder in goal and the Blues guarding the central approaches resolutely, Neptunes could not close the gap.
Their urgency was also their undoing especially with time running out.
A goal apiece in the third quarter meant that Sliema maintained their comfortable four-goal advantage into the last part of the game.
The Blues’ expertise in preserving their lead was in doubt as the Reds staged a bold recovery even if they lost a couple of chances when within striking distance.
The Reds closed in to make it 8-9 with just over a minute left but Sliema held out. Their early ascendancy had won them the game.
At the end of the match, Peter Perotti, BOV chief officer, presented the cup to the Blues captain John Soler.
Neptunes: I. Bugeja, N. Lanzon 3, E. Aquilina 3, M. Stellini 1, Z. Mizzi, G. Pace, J. Camilleri, K. Debattista, T. Agius, S. Gravina 1, B. Lanzon, S. Xerri de Carro, C. Mercieca.
Sliema: R. Coleiro, C. Cluett, N. Lubrano 2, P. Privitera 1, M. Meli 1, J. Soler 3, D. Paolella, N. Bugelli, C. Debono, M. Cordina, M. Rizzo 1, M. Spiteri Staines 1, Z. Sciberras.
Referees: M. Angilleri, P. Balzan.