Ten-man Gudja go down fighting
Gudja United 2
Marsaxlokk recorded an important win after edging Gudja United who finished a tense match with 10 men.
The game began 12 minutes late due to a clash of colours. The initial stages were balanced but, as the game progressed, Marsaxlokk capitalised on their numerical advantage even though Gudja’s never-say-die attitude put their opponents under pressure in the final stages.
Tempers flared at the end of the match with the police having to intervene following harsh protests from the Gudja clan. Referee Sandro Spiteri booked several players before the teams headed for the dressing rooms.
Gudja came close after two minutes when Ivan Kurtusic’s dipper from 30 metres, following a good pass from Ryan Sell, was tipped away for a corner by Marsaxlokk goalkeeper Omar Borg.
A minute later, Marsaxlokk’s Dylan Micallef received a pass from Douglas Da Silva but shot weakly into the hands of Matthew Xerxen.
Da Silva’s free-kick bounced in front of Xerxen but the Gudja goalkeeper turned the ball away for a corner.
Marsaxlokk managed to forge ahead on 26 minutes when Gary Caruana served Da Silva who dribbled two defenders before curling the ball home.
Gudja drew level a minute later when Kurtusic’s screamer from around 35 metres stunned Borg.
On 33 minutes, Xerxen pulled off two quickfire saves, first from Mark Brincat’s close-range effort and then when pushing away Da Silva’s grounder.
Gudja suffered a setback on 34 minutes when Francis Owusu was dismissed after receiving a second yellow card for dissent. A minute later, Marsaxlokk went 2-1 up thanks to Kenneth Scicluna who slotted home after Matthew Clarke nodded Rupert Mangion’s corner into the defender’s path.
Gudja should have equalised a minute into the second half but Sell missed a sitter as he shot straight at Borg from a melee. The southseasiders sealed the issue on 63 minutes when, in a quick counter-attack, Warren Chircop crossed for Caruana who beat Xerxen.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Gudja refused to give up and their late rally shook Marsaxlokk.
On the stroke of time, Sell was unlucky as his effort hit the foot of a post and, in stoppage time, Leslie Burke’s side reduced the arrears when substitute Keith Bonello’s long-range scorcher took a deflection which wrong-footed Borg.
Marsaxlokk: O. Borg, R. Mifsud (T. Farrugia), K. Scicluna, M.P. Clarke, M. Brincat, W. Chircop (D. Grech), D. Attard (S. Cutajar), G. Caruana, D. Micallef, R. Mangion, D. Da Silva.
Gudja: M. Xerxen, R. Buhagiar, E. Vella (D. Bonnici), F. Owusu, A. Abela, K. Polidano (P.P. Sammut), R. Kovachev, I. Kurtusic, E. Bugeja (K. Bonello), K. Azzopardi, R. Sell.
Referee: Sandro Spiteri
Man of the match: Ivan Kurtusic (Gudja).