St Andrews shock nine-man Stripes

St Andrews secured a precious victory over Birkirkara. Photo: Christine Borg

St Andrews secured a precious victory over Birkirkara. Photo: Christine Borg

St. Andrews’ missed two penalties, hit the woodwork three times but succeeded to beat Birkirkara in a highly-charged match.

Carlos Alberto Goncalves was shown a straight red for lashing out at Matthew Gauci on the half-hour mark to leave the Stripes with ten men.

Three minutes into the second half, Birkirkara survived a major scare when Reid’s cross was met by a surging Atkinson whose effort hit the underside of the bar and bounced out of the line before Birkirkara cleared the danger.

The writing was on the wall for Birkirkara when on 69 minutes, Nikola Vukanac tripped Atkinson inside the penalty area and the Gibraltar referee ordered a penalty but Reid’s spot-kick crashed against the bar.

The woodwork denied St Andrews a third time when Atkinson’s grounder rolled against the foot of the far post.

However, St Andrews were not to be denied when Atkinson slipped the ball to Misael Miranda, who left himself almost no margin of error in getting the ball between the near post and Kristjan Naumaski, the Birkirkara goalkeeper.

Birkirkara’s hopes of forcing an equaliser seemed to fizzle out as they conceded a second penalty after substitute Grech was adjudged to have floored Reid inside the box. However, Naumaski repelled the effort by Travis Blagrove.

At death, Birkirkara protested ferociously for a penalty as they deemed that Ryan Scicluna’s shot had struck the arm of Mark Gauci but the referee waved play on much to the chagrin of the Birkirkara clan.

The Stripes finished the match with nine men when Grech collected a second yellow card after barging into an opponent.

Tempers boiled over at the final whistle and a free-for-all involving players from both teams ensued with the consequence that Scicluna and Blagrove were shown the red card.

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