BOV GA Cup Q/final
Kerċem Ajax Stadium
Kercem A : 2 (M. Mifsud 35’, O. Rolovic 72’)
B. Vrndic, J. Grech, N. Mercieca, O. Rolovic, M. Tabone, E. Vella, M. Mamo, M. Mifsud, A. zammit, A. Haska.
Oratory Y : 3 (R. Duric 29’, B. Perello Palou 49’ pen, R. Ebube Okpokwu 78’)
R. Sammut, Ju. Attard, M. Azzopardi, L. Mba Mutasi, A. Bezzina, J. Buttigieg (K. Grima), B. Perello Palou, K. Farrugia, Jo. Attard (C. Mercieca), R. Duric, R. Ebube Okpokwu.
Oratory Youths, who were finalists in the previous two editions of the BOV GFA Cup, registered a 3-2 win over Kercem Ajax and may aim to contest this competition for the third consecutive season. The Ajax were favourites to win this encounter particularly as they were coming from a win over the current leaders of the championship Victoria Hotspurs in the previous round. However, in this match Oratory were well organised and neutralised Kercem’s efforts to take command of play. The match was well contested but the Youths were in the driving seat for most of the time so that the final score was a reward for their collective effort. Kercem were forced to trail their opponents and although they levelled the score on two occasions they failed to recover the score for a third time as they lost composure and became erratic in their play.
The Ajax seemed more adventurous during the opening stages and could have opened the score after just 19 seconds of play but a shot on the run by Ognjen Rolovic missed the target. On 10 minutes Kercem protested for a penalty alleging handling by Keith Farrugia who challenged Alen Haska inside the area. As time passed by the Youths started to share more play with their opponents in the midfield and on two separate occasions Ralph Ebube Okpokwu headed badly from close distance. Oratory opened the score on 29 minutes when Radovan Duric produced a personal action within Kercem’s area and concluded in goal with a good shot that got a deflection and ended in goal. Kercem’s immediate reaction was sterile but on 35 minutes they managed to level the score through a strike from outside the area by Mario Mifsud that ended in the upper corner of goal despite the attempt of the goalkeeper to turn the ball to a corner. Kercem grew in confidence and held command of play during the remaining minutes of the first half. On 39 minutes they were also unlucky when a direct free kick by Ognjen Rolovic shaved the crossbar and the ball ended away from goal. The same striker had another free kick on 44 minutes but his attempt was stopped by the wall among protests by the same player alleging handling by Oratory’s rear guard.
The Youths had an excellent start to the second period and regained the lead on 49 minutes when the referee awarded a penalty, for a foul by Kercem’s Anthony Zammit on Johann Attard, and Bartomeo Perello Palou converted from the spot kick. Kercem were once again shocked while Oratory tried to control play in an attempt to defend their one-goal lead. However, the Ajax re-opened their chances to win the match when the scored the second equaliser on 72 minutes through a free kick from long distance by Ognjen Rolovic that ended out of the reach of Oratory’s keeper. The match now became much more contested as the two sides tried to take command of play. Kercem produced a good action on 77 minutes when Ognjen Rolovic entered the area with a personal action but failed to conclude towards goal as he was challenged by two opponents inside the area and goalie Richard Sammut left his position in time to the danger. The Youths capitalised better from their scoring opportunity one minute later as Bartomeio Perello Palou released Ralph Ebube Okpokwu following a counter break and the latter placed in goal with a low drive. Kercem’s best opportunity to save the result for the third time arrived on 84 minutes but a good shot by Ognjen Rolovic was turned to a corner with difficulty by goalie Richard Sammut. From the resultant corner kick by Elton Vella, the same goalkeeper neutralised the danger from the goal mouth and the youths managed to defend their lead until the final whistle.
Referee: Ishmael Barbara