GFA Melita Division I
Victoria Hotspurs   Kercem Ajax
Victoria Hotspurs : 1   3 : Kercem Ajax

(R. Buttigieg 59’)

 

(A. Ribeiro 44’, 52’; L. Meilak 78’)

C. Mercieca, M. Buhagiar (J. Bajada), J. Pace, D. Farrugia, F. Apap, A. Bello Osagie, M. Bezzina (A. Camilleri), M. Bamba, D. Bellotti (O. Curmi), R. Buttigieg, D. Mercieca.

 

L. Camilleri, P. Kyumyurdzhiev, M. Mifsud, J. Azzopardi, O. Spiteri, K. Mifsud, J.P. Mizzi, I. Xuereb (L. Meilak), A. Mizzi, M. Vella (A. Buttigieg), A. Ribeiro.

This match was considered as an important clash for both Kercem Ajax and Victoria Hotspurs as the two sides are considered to have the potential to be among the challengers this season.  However, the two sides failed to convince during the opening two matches where the Hotspurs suffered two defeats while Kercem lost their first match but won their second.  The Hotspurs also replaced their coaching staff for this match in an attempt to revert the negative trend and had Marvin Buttigieg as a coach for the first time.  However, from this match Kercem showed that they are on the right track to challenge the top teams while the Hotspurs remain in serious trouble as they are still without a point from three matches and nine points away from the leaders.  Kercem’s win was well deserved as they managed to hold control of play for long stretches and also produced effective play which kept Victoria’s rearguard under pressure for long moments of the encounter.  Kercem’s pressure also led to two decisive moments where Victoria’s defense failed to clear the ball from their area and striker Anderson Ribeiro capitalized by scoring the first two goal which paved the way to the convincing win.  The Hotspurs are undoubtedly under a lot of pressure and their most established players cannot find their best form to obtain the results that were expected from them.

Kercem held territorial supremacy during the first part of the match although the actions at goal were very rare.  The most dangerous action of the first part of the encounter arrived in the second minute of play through an attempt by Mario Mifsud following a free kick that was well saved by goalie Courtney Mercieca. Kercem were also unlucky on 38 minutes when a direct free kick by Petar Kyumyurdzhiev was stopped by the crossbar.  The Ajax opened the score on 44 minutes when Victoria’s defense failed to clear the ball from the area and Malcolm Vella prolonged towards goal so that Anderson Ribeiro was at the right place and converted in goal from close distance.  Victoria’ reaction arrived in the second minute of stoppage time before the break through a header by Ferdinando Apap from a free kick by Michael Bezzina that ended wide.

Victoria tried to increase their efforts after the break but on 52 minutes their defense compromised the possibility to recover the deficit when they conceded a second goal.  Mario Mifsud’s corner kick arrived to an unmarked Andrew Mizzi who tried to conclude in goal but the ball arrived to Anderson Ribeiro who surprised the defense by placing the ball in goal with a back heel.  On 55 minutes Victoria’s Rodney Buttigieg had a header from a cross by Daniel Farrugia that ended high and on 59 minutes the Hotspurs managed to reduce the score when Rodney Buttigieg surprised Kercem’s goalie with a low shot after receiving the ball from Bello Osagie in the area.  The Hotspurs gained confidence and three minutes later Kercem’s goalie Leonard Camilleri had to make a difficult intervention to turn to a corner a cross shot by Jason Pace.  Kercem could have score their third goal on 64 minutes when Ribeiro won a ball from Victoria’s defense but from his inviting pass Malcolm Vella’s shot on the run missed the target.  Kercem’s goalie was once again called to make a good save on 69 minutes when he managed to block a close ranged attempt by Jonathan Bajada following a cross by Rodney Buttigieg and from the rebound Dylan Bellotti failed to take advantage so that Kercem’s rearguard cleared the ball to a corner. 

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