Stripes dumped out of FA trophy
St Andrews 3 Birkirkara 0
Birkirkara goalkeeper had a night to forget as St Andrews completed a night of FA trophy shock exits when they dumped the Stripes out of the competition.
This result places pressure on Birkirkara coach Drazen Besek who knows that the Birkirkara’s hopes of silverware now rest with the Premier League and nothing on display at the Victor Tedesco Stadium yesterday suggested that is a viable option.
Birkirkara’s casual approach to the match was punished by St Andrews’ as early as the quarter of the hour mark. Ivan Paz has to be credited for his measured corner towards Karlo Kesinovic who hit home with a brilliant header into the corner of the net.
Shocked by this unexpected turn of events, the Stripes tried to react to restore parity but their efforts were unsuccessful as St Andrews put more men behind the ball.
Shaun Bajada came in for Muscat at the restart. Kesinovic hit wide from a good position as St Andrews opened on the offensive. Birkirkara were looking sheepish, trying to grapple with the saints’ five-man defence. The onus was on them to go for enterprise.
After 51 minutes, they saw some light at the end of the tunnel and Joseph Zerafa could only blast over the bar.
But the purple outfit began to see more of the ball. They would have gone further ahead but for a good save by Miroslav Kopric from Kyrian Nwoko’s point-blank flick after the striker was put through by Paz.
Birkirkara surged forward with the Saints retreating around their penalty area. Time was running out and the Stripes badly wanted to save their faces. After 72 minutes, Kesinovic broke down a Birkirkara attack with a timely tackle on Frank Temile.
Besek tried to address his side’s impotence up front by deploying Jovic as a makeshift striker. But any hopes Birkirkara had of level matters disappeared eight minutes from time. Zerafa looked to have cleared any danger when he back-passed the ball to Kopric, but the goalkeeper let the ball run loose and Paz stole in for the simplest of tap-ins.
St. Andrews further compounded Birkirkara’s wounds when substitute Ryan Darmanin powered his way through Birkirkara’s static defence but Kopric repelled his effort. The rebound fell kindly to Godwin Mckay who stabbed the ball behind the Croatian goalkeeper.