Gharb R: 2 (S. Fidelis 21’, 76’pen)
Spiteri, R. Vella, M. Grech, J. Azzopardi, C. Gafa (A. Sultana), J. Camenzuli, J. Attard, D. Bellotti, R. Zammit (J. Muscat), P.A. Attard, S. Fidelis.
Zebbug R: 4 (A. Zammit 11’, I. Igwemeke 67’, E. Nkwocha 83’pen., J. Debrincat 88’)
Saliba, C. Bugeja, P. Cardona (J. Debrincat), P. Camilleri, A. Zammit, M. Cordina (J.P. Saliba), P. Falzon, O. Calleja, C. Vella (D. Portelli), I. Igwemeke, E. Nkwocha.
Gharb Rangers and Zebbug Rovers produced a match typical of a cup tie where the qualification to the semi-finals of the Knock Out competition for the lower category remained in contention until the last minutes of the encounter. The two sides who are currently among the main protagonists of the second division campaign were determined to earn a place with the last four teams in the competition. Zebbug managed to be more effective in their play and at the end they made sure of qualification with two goals scored in the last seven minutes of the encounter. Gharb, who are the holders of the competition, produced as much scoring opportunities as their opponents but they were often erratic in their finishing and lost opportunities to take control of the match during crucial moments of the encounter.
Zebbug opened the score in their first serious attempt at goal. On 11 minutes Ikechukwu Igwemeke entered Gharb’s area with a personal action and form his pass Anthony Zammit placed in goal from close distance. Gharb replied through a shot by Rueben Zammit on 15 minutes that was saved by goalie Baskal Saliba but on 21 minutes the Rangers levelled the score when Saviour Fidelis took the ball from Zebbug’s defence and fired in goa, with a strike from the edge of the area. On 26 minutes Gharb were again dangerous but Josef Camenzuli’s shot after receiving from Saviour Fidelis ended wide. Zebbug created some danger inside Gharb’s area on 33 minutes through an initiative by Ikechukwu Igwemeke but the striker had his effort blocked by Gharb’s defence. Three minutes later Gharb’s goalie Daniel Spiteri was called to make a difficult intervention to save a low shot by Ikechukwu Igwemeke and two minutes before the end of the regular time of the first half Gharb could have turned the result in their favour but a shot on the run by Rueben Zammit following a pass by Saviour Fidelis hit the crossbar and from the rebound goalie Baskal Saliba saved the danger.
Gharb lost another good scoring opportunity in the fourth minute of play of the second period when Saviour Fidelis had a shot from a good position that ended away from Zebbug’s goal. Three minutes later the same striker was unlucky when he a shot following a personal action that ended on the crossbar and once again Baskal Saliba managed to take the ball from the rebound to avoid further danger. Zebbug replied on 58 minutes through a header by Manwel Cordina that ended wide and one minute later Gharb’s Dylan Bellotti entered Zebbug’s area with a personal action but his shot from an angled position ended on the side of the net. Play continued to be balanced with opportunities at the two ends of the pitch. On 61 minutes a header by Gharb’s Dylan Bellotti from a corner kick by Josef Camenzuli ended high and four minutes later the Rangers were awarded a penalty for a foul by Omar Callejja on Saviour Fidelis. However, the same Saviour Fidelis had his shot from the spot kick that was blocked by goalie Baskal Saliba and from the rebound the same striker concluded over the crossbar. Gharb were punished for the missed chance as Zebbug regained the lead on 67 minutes through a low shot by Ikechukwu Igwemeke following a personal action and with the ball hitting the base of the post before crossing the line into the net. Gharb were not demoralised and on 76 minutes they were awarded a second penalty, for an irregular intervention by Christian Bugeja on Paul Anthony Attard, and on this occasion Saviour Fidelis converted from the spot kick to make it 2-2. Zebbug were also awarded a penalty on 83 minutes when Chris Gafa tackled Ikechukwu Igwemeke and Ejofor Nkwocha placed in goal with his shot from the spot kick to put his side in the lead for the third time in this match. Zebbug retained control of play and practically made sure of the qualification with a fourth goal that arrived on 88 minutes through substitute Josef Debrincat who took the ball from Gharb’s defence before placing in goal from an angled position. In the second minute of stoppage time Zebbug’s Ikechukwu Igwemeke could have added another goal but his lob aimed to an open Gharb’s goal missed the target and the ball ended wide.
Referee: Kurt Saliba