GFA BOV Gozo Football League Division I
Xewkija T : 0
F. Vella, R. Buttigieg, M. Hrubsa, M. Xerri, J. Cefai (T. Vella), J.M. Vella, M. Stojanovic, G. Hili, J.G. Vella (J. Azzopardi), C. Antunes Pavlidis, T.M. Dos Santos.
Victoria H : 1 (H. Maciel 75’)
A. Parnis, J. Pace, J. Bajada, K. Farrugia, D. Sowatey, F. Apap, C. Mercieca, E. Lattes, E. Da Silva (J. Camilleri), C. Camilleri, H. Maciel.
In the main match from Match-Day 3 of the main championship in Gozo, title contenders Victoria Hotspurs earned a 1-0 win over reigning champions Xewkija Tigers and confirmed their aspiration to become champions of Gozitan football after seven years. The match was a direct clash between the two teams who impressed most during the opening matches of the new season and therefore a match which had to determine who would be the hot favourite for the title this season. The match lived up to the expectations as it turned out into a challenge between Xewkija’s potential in attack and Victoria’s strength of its defensive department. As a result, the reigning champions held territorial supremacy and saw more of the ball throughout the ninety minutes. However, they found it extremely difficult to convert their play into good scoring opportunities. The Hotspurs on the other hand protected their area and operated mainly with counter breaks.
Xewkija’s tactical changes, particularly that of deploying Claudio Antunes in the midfield and also Rodney Buttigieg’s position at the defense; were not effective since the two players were often out of their offensive actions. The Hotspurs on the other hand fielded their typical formation where Daniel Sowatey and Ferdinando Apap ensured that their goalkeeper would not be exposed to Xewkija’s strikers. The Hotspurs were also well protected from the flanks through an excellent performance of defenders Jason Pace and Jonathan Bajada, while midfielder Emiliano Lattes was instrumental to organize the necessary pressure to disrupt Xewkija’s maneuver outside Victoria’s defensive area. Victoria’s success was also achieved because they were very effective in their counter breaks particularly through initiatives by Elton Da Silva and match winner Henrique Maciel.
Play during the early stages of the encounter took place mainly in the midfield as the two sides were very cautious in their approach. As time passed by Xewkija took command of the midfield and started to put some pressure on Victoria’s defense. On 11 minutes the Tigers could have opened the score but Gennaro Hili failed to connect to an inviting pass by Joseph Vella. One minute later Xewkija’s Milos Stojanovic had a good shot following a free kick by Gennaro Hili that ended on the side of the net. Xewkija continued to increase their efforts but Victoria were well organized at their defense at the goalkeeper was not called to make difficult interventions. On the half hour mark Xewkija’s Joseph Vella had an overhead kick from a cross by Thiago Melo Dos Santos that ended wide. The Hotspurs had their best scoring opportunity of the first half on 45 minutes when Henrique Maciel unmarked Elton Da Silva in a counter break, Xewkija’s keeper Franklin Vella left his position and arrived on the ball before the striker, but the goalkeeper risked to concede a goal as his clearance hit the back of Da Silva and the ball passed over an open goal. The Hotspurs were again dangerous on the second minute of stoppage time before the break when Christian Mercieca released Chris Camilleri inside Xewkija’s area but the latter had two consecutive attempts that were blocked by goalie Franklin Vella.
Xewkija continued to enjoy command of play in the midfield after the break and during he opening minutes of the second period they threatened Victoria’s defense on more than one occasion. On 50 minutes a shot by Thiago Nelo Dos Santos from a good position ended far away from Victoria’s goal and three minutes later Gennaro Hili had a strike from outside the area that ended just over Victoria’s goal. On 55 minutes Claudio Antunes had a good attempt that was well saved by Victoria’s keeper Adrian Parnis. One minute later Xewkija’s Milos Stojanovic had a shot on the run that missed the target and on 57 minutes the Hotspurs replied through a low shot by Elton Da Silva that ended wide from the far post. On 65 minutes Xewkija’s Claudio Antunes produced a good move but from his cross Thiago Melo Dos Santos had an attempt by an overhead kick that missed the target. Four minutes later Xewkija’s defense failed to clear the ball form outside the dangerous area and Henrique Maciel took the opportunity but his shot from the edge of the area ended just over the crossbar. On 70 minutes the Hotspurs protested for a penalty when Rodney Buttigieg claiming handling by Rodney Buttigieg in his attempt to clear the ball from the area and five minutes later the Citizens scored the goal the decided the encounter when Elton Da Silva entered Xewkija’s area from the right flank and form his cross Henrique Maciel fired in goal from close distance. Xewkija replied on 84 minutes through a move by rodeny Buttigieg from the right flank but his cross shot was easily neutralized by Victoria’s keeper Adrian parnis. Xewkija’s best opportunity to save the result arrived in the third minute of stoppage time but a header by substitute Thomas Vella following a cross by Thiago Melo Dos Santos was saved by goalie Adrian Parnis.
Referee: Alan Mario Sant