|GFA Division II KO – Q/final|
|Gharb Rangers : 2||2 : Qala Saints|
(F. Attard 41’, N. Borg 57’)
|(C. Caruana 35’, M. Buttigieg 76’)|
D. Spiteri, M. Grech, N. Borg, C. Attard, C. Gafa, J. Azzopardi, J. Portelli (C. Mercieca), P.A. Attard, Jsf. Muscat, F. Attard, R. Vella (Jo. Muscat).
F. Buttigieg, M. Cefai (A. Cini), J. Rapa, C. Caruana, M. Buttigieg, I. Grech (A. Vella), F. Mumford, J. Attard, D. Portelli, S. Muscat, M. Scerri (D. Cutajar).
Gharb Rangers and Qala Saints produced an interesting encounter which showed that both sides are determined to be competitive within the category. At the end most of the new signings of the respective sides had a positive match but neither side managed to prevail in the 120 minutes of play. Qala’s goalie Franco Buttigieg was the hero for his side by saving a penalty that determined the qualification.
Play was balanced form the early stages and both sides could have scored a goal in the opening stages. On 8 minutes of play a free kick by Qala’s Christoph Caruana ended just wide and on 22 minutes Gharb produced a good move through Paul Anthony Attard (ex-Munxar Falcons) but the striker had his shot that missed the target. Gharb were again dangerous on 29 minutes through a strike by Justin Azzopardi (ex-Victoria Hotspurs) thst was deflected by the defence to a corner and in an immediate reply by Qala Francisco Mumford saw his shot from a good position that ended high. On 31 minutes Gharb’s Roy Vella had a shot that ended high and four minutes later Qala opened the score when Christoph Caruana controlled a ball inside the area following a short clearance by the defence and concluded in goal with a low shot. Gharb had an immediate reaction and levelled the score on 41 minutes when Roy Vella released Frank Attard (ex-Xaghra United) in Qala’s territory and the striker entered the area before placing in goal with a low shot that was out of the reach of goalie Buttigieg.
Qala went close to regain the lead in the seventh minute of play of the second period through an effort by Shaun Muscat that ended wide. On the other hand Gharb managed to score in their first attempt at goal of the second period and turned the result in their favour. On 57 minutes a free kick by Justin Azzopardi arrived to an unmarked Noel Borg (ex-Victoria Hotspurs) who placed in goa with a good header. On the hour mark Qala’s Alan Cini passed through Gharb’s rearguard with a personal action but concluded wide as he was alone in the area with the goalkeeper to beat. Three minutes later Gharb ended up with ten players as Matthew Grech was sent off for a second bookable offence. The Maroons were also reduced to ten players on 66 minutes when Alan Cini received a second caution. However, Qala managed to recover the score on 76 minutes through a direct free kick by Manuel Buttigieg. The same Buttigieg could have scored a decisive goal on the stroke of regular time but his free kick on this occasion just missed the target.
During extra time Gharb had the better scoring opportunities. On 107’ a good strik by Justin Azzopardi hit the post and seconds from the end of extra time Frank Attard came face to face with Qala’s goalie but his shot ended wide. The qualification was decided in Qala’s favour in a penalty shoot-out. Qala scored the five penalties through Shaun Muscat, Daniel Cutajar, Manuel Buttigieg, Joseph Attard and Adrian Vella. Gharb scored four penalties through Justin Azzopardi, Chris Attard, Noel Borg and Frank Attard while Pau Anthony Attard’s penalty was saved by Qala’s goalie.
Referee: Gordon Barbara
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