Blues through on penalties in thriller
This was a match which had the pulsus racing at full speed and certainly not advisable to watch for the weak-of-heart.
A six-session marathon did not produce a winner on aggregate as Sirens Ritter Sport foolishly went for time wasting with victory in sight with seconds from the end.
Sliema McDonald’s, their resources drained to the limit, levelled the score on aggregate when John Brownrigg made it 14-12 for Sirens and 25-all on both ties. Then came the drama of penalties with the match interminably locked with 12 throws being taken with Sirens missing the thirteenth but Sliema converted the 14th penalty. It was all over for the gallant northerners.
It had been a tit-for-tat struggle with Sirens, without Alex Attard, twice enjoying a three-goal lead inside the first two sessions. They were clearly superior but the Blues, on their part missing the services of Jerome Gabarretta, came back, recovering in the last quarter only for Sirens to force extra-time on 13-11.
With four Blues and one Sirens player fouled out and the northerners scoring goal no. 14, Marco Risso thought his team were through to the final before his players contrived to be punished for time-wasting which resulted in the eventual last-gasp equaliser for the Blues.
The penalties were the crescendo to this heart-throbbing match with Sliema in the end winning the right to meet Neptunes Emirates in tomorrow’s final.
In the opening clash of the day Marsascala Mor€ gained a place in the final of the Division KO at the expense of Valletta Sterling, winning by the odd goal in 21 and on a 24-21 aggregate.
The southerners’ victory was procured mainly in the third session which they won 5-2 to overturn the scoreline that had seen them at one point in the second quarter going adrift by seven goals to two.
Valletta lost their earlier rhythm while Pierre Borg’s men picked up considerably late in the game to end on a winning note with Stephen Micallef netting a hat-trick.
(agg: 21-24 ; 4-2, 3-3, 2-5, 1-1)
VALLETTA: A. Sammut, S. Meli 1, R. Calleja, A. Galea, T. Agius 4, S. Cachia 1, A. Galea, M. Korolija 2, M. Cordina, D. Zoltan 2, A. Arrigo, J.C. Farrugia, K. Hyzler.
MARSASCALA: K. Schembri, C. Mifsud, M. Pace 1, B. Muscat, J. Kayes 2, L. Grixti, J. Licari 2, J. Cremona 1, S. Micallef 3, J. Szolt 2, D. Cassar, M. Fenech, K. Navarro.
Refs: M. Dalli, I. Sciriha.
(2-5, 3-2, 4-2, 2-4 – 0-0, 1-1)
agg: 23-23; Sliema win 7-6 on pens
SLIEMA: I. Gergely, C. Cluett, N. Lubrano 1, P. Privitera 1, M. Meli, J. Soler 3, D. Paolella, J. Brownrigg 1, C. Debono 1, F. Salomon 5, M. Rizzo, M. Spiteri Staines, R. Coleiro.
SIRENS: A. Grech, M. Grech, L. Caruana, A. Sammut, A. Babay 3, C. Kiss 4, J. Borg, D. Cutajar 3, A. Zarb Cousin 3, C. Zammit, C. Spiteri de Barro, D. Zammit 1, N. Grixti.
Refs: M. Angileri, C. Congiu.
Division One KO final: 6 p.m. Marsascala Mor€ vs Otters Nivea.
Premier KO final: 7.15 p.m. Neptunes Emirates vs Sliema McDonald’s.