GFA BOV GFL Division I
Ghajnsielem FC: 3 (C. Camilleri 36’, R. Kooh Sohna 78’pen., J. Camilleri 90’)
Buttigieg, F. Apap, J.J.S. Guarin, A. Tramboo, K. Mercieca, S. Cassar, E.P. Lattes, E.D.B. Zarate (D. Hili), C. Camilleri, J. Camilleri (K. Hili), R.A. Kooh Sohna.
Xewkija T: 0
Sultana, M. Xerri, D. Sakic (P. Buttigieg), M. Hrubsa, J. Vella, J.M. Vella (C. Farrugia), D. Bogdanovic, G. Hili, R. Buttigieg, D. Shields, J. Cefai (J. Azzopardi).
Champions Ghajnsielem took revenge for the defeat conceded against Xewkija Tigers in the final of the Super Cup at the beginning of this new season and earned the full points at stake in the match between the two sides of the championship. In this match Ghajnsielem and Xewkija showed that they will probably be the main contenders for the main honour. The two sides, who both ended with ten players at an early stage of the match, produced a well contested encounter and the result remained in contention for more than two thirds of playing time. Ghajnsielem’s play was more effective. They had a well organised and strong defence where Ferdinando Apap and debutant Jhon Jairo Sandoval Guarin rarely gave space to strikers Dene Shields and Daniel Bogdanovic to create good scoring opportunities. In addition, at the midfield, Ghajnsielem had Emiliano Lattes who protected the defensive department while Chris Camilleri provided continuous support to the strikers Rafael Kooh Sohna and John Camilleri. As a result Xewkija’s defence was often under pressure and they remained in contention mainly due to a series of interventions by their goalkeeper Steve Sultana who denied Ghajnsielem’s strikers from scoring on more than one occasion. In this match Xewkija struggled to find the right method to create danger within Ghajnsielem’s area and practically threw the towel as soon as they conceded the second goal. Overall Ghajnsielem’s win was deserved and therefore they managed to start the defence of the title won last season with a win over a potential direct contender for the title.
The two sides tried to take command of the midfield during the opening stages but both teams were well deployed and the two goalkeepers were not called to make any difficult interventions. However, on 14 minutes Xewkija were reduced to ten players when Rodney Buttigieg was sent off for elbowing on Stefan Cassar. Ghajnsielem took immediate advantage and started to dictate matters. On 22 minutes Emiliano Lattes had a good strike from outside the area that was saved to a corner by goalie Steve Sultana. The same goalkeeper was called to make another intervention, to save in two attempts on 29 minutes, following another shot from outside the area by Emiliano Lattes. On 34 minutes Ghajnsielem were also reduced to ten players as Alex Tramboo was sent off after receiving a second caution for a foul on Dene Shields. The Blacks however continued to produce more dangerous actions and opened the score on 36 minutes when Rafael Kooh Sohna released Chris Camilleri inside the area and the veteran midfielder lobbed into an open goal as goalie Steve Sultana left his position in an attempt to block the danger. Xewkija replied on 39 minutes through a header by Dene Shields following a free kick by Daniel Bogdanovic that ended wide. During the final moments of the first half Ghajnsielem went close to add another goal on more than one occasion. On 41 minutes Xewkija’s goalie saved with difficulty to a corner a direct free kick by Rafael Kooh Sohna and two minutes later Ghajnsielem’s goalie Luke Buttigieg blocked a shot from long distance by Daniel Bogdanovic. One minute later Ghajnsielem’s Rafael Kooh Sohna entered the area with a personal action but had his shot saved to a corner by goalie Steve Sultana. In the first minute of stoppage time Xewkija’s goalie left his position and hit his central defender Daniel Sakic in an attempt to clear the danger from the area but at the end the ball arrived to Rafael Kooh Sohna who had his attempt addressed to an open goal blocked by Josmar Vella and the score remained unchanged until the end of the first half.
Ghajnsielem’s Chris Camilleri could have doubled the score in the second minute of play of the second period but his lob with the goalkeeper out of his position ended just wide. The same player had another attempt on 50 minutes from a direct free kick that missed the target and seconds later an attempt by Stefan Cassar following a melee inside Xewkija’s area ended high. On 52 minutes Ghajnsielem were unlucky when Rafael Kooh Sohna produced a personal action from the left flank but had his curling shot that was stopped by the post. Xewkija almost levelled the score one minute later when Daniel Bogdanovic won a ball inside Ghajnsielem’s area when the goalkeeper was out of his position but his attempt towards an open goal was cleared off the fatal line by Jhon Jairo Sandoval Guarin. Xewkija went again close to scoring on 59 minutes through a header by Dene Shields following a cross by Gennaro Hili that ended inches wide. The match continued to be much more exciting during the second half as the two sides were applying offensive play. On 63 minutes Ghajnsielem’s Chris Camilleri had a shot from outside the area that hit the side of the net and three minutes later Xewkija replied through a strike by Joseph Mario Vella that ended just high. On 76 minutes Ghajnsielem’s Chris Camilleri had a low shot from an angled position that was saved with difficulty by goalie Steve Sultana and two minutes later the same goalkeeper floored John Camilleri inside the area. The referee awarded a penalty and Rafael Kooh Sohna doubled the score with his shot from the spot kick. Xewkija replied on 80 minutes through a cross-shot by Manwel Xerri that was saved to a corner by goalie Luke Buttigieg. Xewkija’s last opportunity tore-open the issue arrived on 87 minutes through a cross shot by Gennaro Hili that ended just wide as Ghajnsielem sealed the victory with the third goal that arrived on the stroke of regular time when Rafael Kooh Sohna unmarked John Camilleri inside the area and the latter netted with a low shot.
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri