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Late Caruana brace sends Marsa down

St Patrick 3
Marsa 1

Two late Thomas Caruana goals sealed Marsa's fate as the side coached by Jimmy Briffa were relegated yesterday. St Patrick are just one step away from safety now. They have moved to the 16-point mark, three ahead of second-bottom Mellieħa who play Mosta in their remaining match.

St Patrick deserved their win as they were the team that ventured forward most. In fact, had it not been for Roderick Spiteri, the Marsa keeper, the Saints' victory would have been more pronounced.

Marsa took a surprise lead on 21 minutes when Warren Chircop picked up a ball 35 metres out, outran two defenders and shot low past David Cassar.

Two minutes later Simon Zerafa thought he had scored an equaliser but somehow the ball was cleared to safety before rolling over the line. However, St Patrick made it 1-1 on 28 minutes, Chris Grech heading in a Shaun Magro cross.

On resumption, Karl Vassallo brought the best out of Spiteri and on 52 minutes the Marsa no.1 made a superb one-handed save to stop a Grech header.

Spiteri continued to shine in goal when he saved a point-blank effort by Haruna Doda and at the other end Chircop came face to face with the St Patrick keeper but his lob was too high.

With nine minutes to go Doda was unlucky when he hit the post with a shot and from the rebound Vassallo knocked it wide.

The stalemate prevailed but seven minutes from time St Patrick won a dubious penalty when Vassallo went down in the Marsa box and Caruana sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot.

Two minutes into added time, Caruana made sure of the points when he blasted the ball home following a melee inside the Marsa box.

An informed source told The Sunday Times after the match that Marsa were expected to lodge a protest with the MFA on the grounds that, according to them, St Patrick keeper David Cassar was wearing the same colour of outfit as the rest of his team-mates. This goes against the rules, Marsa contended.

St Patrick
D. Cassar, H. Doda, A. Buttigieg, M. Fleri Soler, S. Zerafa, C. Grech, S. Magro, C. Vassallo (S. Dimech), T. Caruana, C. Micallef, B. Bonnici.

Marsa
R. Spiteri, S. Cutajar (J. Martin), D. Vella, A. Mifsud, D. Gatt (J. Rizzo), J.P. Zammit, K. Cassar, J. Achokwu (I. Borg), K. Xerri, W. Chircop, J. Dalli.

Referee: Saviour Tanti.

Man of the match: Roderick Spiteri (Marsa).

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