BOV GFA Cup Rd. 1
Kercem Ajax Stadium
Oratory Y : 4 (C. Mercieca 6’, R.E. Okpokwu 33’, 55’, 70’)
R. Sammut, Ju. Attard, M. Buttigieg, M. Azzopardi, Jo. Attard (G. Attard), C. Mercieca, K. Farrugia (A. Zammit), B. Perello Palou, J. Buttigieg, E. Ebube Okpokwu, A. Bezzina (K. Grima).
Zebbug R : 3 (J. Debrincat 13’, G.B. Mfulwane 40’, 84’)
R. Grima, G. Portelli, F. Cini, J. Debrincat, O. Calleja, C. Vella, A. Buttigieg, J. Azzopardi (C. Borg), J. Muscat (M. Ciangura), G.B. Mfulwane, E. Xuereb (C. Farrugia).
Oratory Youths obtained a close win over second division side Zebbug Rovers with the odd goal from seven in a match where they dominated for long stretches but committed defensive mistakes during crucial moments that left their opponents in contention for a place in the quarter finals. Oratory could have made sure of the qualification with a comfortable margin but they were often erratic in the finishing and whenever they managed to take the lead they ended up conceding scoring opportunities to Zebbug so that the qualification remained uncertain until the final whistle. The protagonist in Oratory’s win was their striker Ralph Ebube Okpokwu who scored three of Oratory’s four goals.
The Youths could have opened the score after just fifty seconds of play but a strike by Ebube Okpukwu was topped by the post. Oratory produced intensive pressure on Zebbug’s defence during the opening minutes of the encounter and in the second minute of play an effort by Aleandro Bezzina was saved to a corner by goalie Brandon Grima. Less than a minute later a shot from close distance by Ebube Okpokwu ended just wide and on 4 minutes a header by Ebube Okpokwu following a cross by Bartomeo Perello Palou was partially saved by goalie Brandon Grima and form the rebound Joshua Buttigieg concluded wide from a good position. Oratory opened the score on 6 minutes through Charles Mercieca who converted in goal a corner kick by Bartomeo Perello Palou. Four minutes later Oratory’s Ebube Okpokwuhad a close ranged attempt that was blocked by Zebbug’s keeper and on 13 minutes the Rovers operated a counter break and managed to level the score through a strike by Josef Debrincat that ended in goal despite the attempt by defender Mario Azzopardi to clear the ball off the fatal line. The Youths however regained full command of play and on 20 minutes they went close to scoring when Ebube Okpokwu produced an effective personal action but his final shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. Four minutes later another attempt towards Zebbug’s goal by Aleandro Bezzina ended wide and on 32 minutes Zebbug replied through an effort by Elijah Xuereb that was well saved to a corner by goalie Richard Sammut. One minute later Oratory regained the lead through a tap-in by Ralph Ebube Okpokwu following a cross by Bartomeo Perello Palou. Oratory once again failed to defend their lead and Zebbug scored their second equaliser on 40 minutes when Gibson Botshelo Mfulwane defended a ball just outside the area and placed behind goalie Richard Sammut with a low shot. Oratory went very close to scoring their third goal on 43 minutes but a good shot by Ebube Okpokwu was saved to a corner with difficulty by Zebbug’s keeper Rodney Grima.
After the resumption Oratory continued to dictate matter and seemed determined to convert all their superiority into a comfortable lead. On 55 minutes the Youths once again took the lead in the match when Charles Mercieca released Ralph Ebube Okpokwu inside Zebbug’s area and the latter fired in goal from close distance. The same striker could have added another goal two minutes later but he concluded badly a personal action when the goalkeeper was also out of his position so that the ball ended away from an open goal. Zebbuig’s keeper was again called to make a good intervention on 65 minutes to turn to a corner an effort by Joshua Buttigieg but on 70 minutes Oratory scored their fourth goal through Ralp Ebube Okpokwu who guided the ball into an open goal after receiving from Johann Attard. Zebbug were not demoralised despite the deficit of two goals. On 74 minutes substitute Chris Borg had a lob that ended not far away from Oratory’s goal and the same striker had an attempt one minuet later that was neutralised by goalie Richard Sammut. Zebbug re-opened the issue with their third goal that arrived on 84 minutes through Gibson Botshelo Mfulwane who took the rebound form the goalkeeper following a shot by Chris Borg. During the dying moments of the encounter Oratory defended well so that Zebbug’s efforts to take the match into extra time were to no avail.
Referee: Alex Johnson