Reds consolidate their lead
Neptunes Emirates produced another dominant performance against their sporting rivals Sliema McDonald’s to the extent that their 11-5 victory yesterday was no less than the Balluta Bay team deserved.
Taking into account their undoubted superiority over the first two matches, Neptunes should be firm favourites to retain the league title after taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series with game no.3 on Wednesday.
In the ageless Tamas Molnar, scorer of another four goals, the Reds again had their chief goal-getter. However, it was a collective showing which had at its core an almost impenetrable rearguard, complimented by a sound four-on-seven goal on man-ups.
The Blues’ two-on-eight conversions reflected a serious weakness, as was their sloppy performance in the offensive open play. They would have to improve immeasurably if they are to entertain hopes of salvaging their pride and ensure that their loyal supporters give them their backing till the very end.
After twice going in front, the Blues surrendered the lead to trail 2-3 in the first session. At this stage, Neptunes were covering much better against the none too convincing Sliema offensive play.
The Reds looked in better shape. The in-form Shaun Gravina made it 4-2 after which Molnar missed a great chance.
Niki Lubrano reduced the gap to 4-3 but Alexandar Ciric and Molnar extended Neptunes’ lead to 6-3 by the half-way mark.
Neptunes’ dominance had no answer from Sliema. Their covering at the back was immaculate even if the Blues were accomplices as they were shoddy throughout.
Sliema kept messing up their numerical advantages, on two occasions gifting their opponents goals on the counter.
Meanwhile, three goals without reply in the third session opened a comfortable 9-3 buffer for Sergey Markoch’s team.
In the final session, Sliema had to go for all-pitch press in order to gain prompt possession.
But Neptunes administered the game wisely and even drew over-confident, with their opponents throwing in the towel as their chief scorers John Soler and Ferenc Salomon were completely anonymous.
In the earlier match, Marsascala Mor€ took a one-nil lead in the best-of-three contest to decide the First Division championship when they defeated Valletta Sterling 14-12 in which the Southerners ensured their victory in the second quarter.
The City team led 3-2 after the first session but then succumbed to their superior opponents when conceding six goals in the second.
After extending their lead to 10-5, Marsascala conceded three goals before they made it a 12-8 cushion with the last session left.
That was enough for them to maintain their earlier momentum, never mind a 4-2 scoreline in Valletta’s favour.
A minor scuffle involving players ensued at the end of the match but calm was soon restored.
(2-3, 1-3, 0-3, 2-2)
Sliema: I. Gergelj, J. Gabarretta 2, N. Lubrano 1, P. Privitera 1, M. Meli, J. Soler, D. Paolella, J. Brownrigg, C. Debono, F. Salamon, J. Falzon, M. Spiteri Staines 1, R. Coleiro.
Neptunes: I. Bugeja, N. Lanzon 1, E. Aquilina, M. Stellini 2, B. Lanzon, A. Ciric 1, S. Camilleri 2, J. Camilleri, G. Pace, S. Gravina 1, T. Molnar 4.
Refs: M. Angilleri, F. Collantoni.
(2-3, 6-2, 4-3, 2-4)
Marsascala: K. Schembri, G. Hedegus 2, M. Pace 1, K. Navarro, J. Keyes 3, L. Grixti 1, J. Licari 2, J. Cremona 1, S. Micallef 3, R. Scerri 1, D. Cassar, M. Fenech, B. Muscat.
Valletta: A. Sammut, J.C. Farrugia, R. Calleja, Ant. Galea 1, T. Agius, S. Cachia 2, Alan Galea, M. Cordina, R. Kovacs 4, D. Zoltan 5, A. Arrigo, E. Arrigo, K. Hyzler.
Refs: P. Giordano, S. Scollo.