Xewkija T : 0
S. Sultana, R. Buttigieg, M. Hrubsa, M. Xerri, G. Hili, S. Bajada, C. Bugeja, J.M. Vella, D. Shields, C. Frances, T. Melo Dos Santos (E. Vella).
Nadur Y : 0
M. Muscat, S. Attard (C. Hili), D. Farrugia, D. Stojanovic, R. Da Silva, J. Buttigieg, M. Stojanovic, D. Dos Santos, C. Antunes, S. Attard, B. Said.
Xewkija Tigers obtained the point they needed form the last match of the championship against Nadur Youngsters, from a goalless draw, so that they defended their one-point lead over the same Nadur and became champions for the eighth time in their history. The direct clash for the main honour in Gozitan football pulled great interest as the championship could have gone either way. Xewkija, who were not going through a very good moment of form, needed a draw from this encounter while Nadur could have clinched the title with a victory over Xewkija.
The match turned out into a well contested encounter which left the large crowd present at the Gozo Stadium uncertain of the outcome until the final whistle of the referee. The two sets of numerous supporters produced a colourful and entertaining afternoon, which expressed the importance of the event. Nadur as expected did most of the running throughout the ninety minutes but Xewkija produced an effective defensive deployment which was complemented with an excellent performance by their goalkeeper Steve Sultana who denied Nadur’s strikers Shaun Attard, Claudio Antunes and Dewide Dos Santos from scoring with a series of important interventions.
Overall, the last match of the championship was worthy of the competition witnessed through the season, where Xewkija and Nadur were the two sides who managed to resist in the top positions throughout the campaign. The two sides both dropped unexpected points against teams from the lower part of the table but Xewkija ended up winning the deserved title as champions as they were unbeaten and did not concede a goal, in the three matches of the championship against Nadur.
Nadur came out determined to take command of play from the early stages as their three players in attack started to put pressure on their opponents from the first minutes of the encounter. However, Xewkija created the first serious scoring opportunity of the match. In the seventh minute of play Claudio Frances took the ball inside the area but his attempt form an angled position was deflected on the side of the net by the defence and gave the illusion of a goal. Nadur replied two minutes later through a shot by Milos Stojanovic that ended away from goal and on 14 minutes Nadur’s Claudio Antunes had a header following a cross by Dewide Dos Santos that was cleared off the goalmouth by Rodney Buttigieg. Nadur continued to increase their pressure on Xewkija’s rear guard and on 17 minutes Xewkija’s keeper Steve Sultana was again called to make a good save to stop a shot by Shaun Attard who received from Dewide Dos Santos. On 24 minutes Claudio Antunes released Shaun Attard inside Xewkija’s area but goalie Steve Sultana had good timing and neutralised the danger in two attempts. The same goalkeeper was called to make another good save three minutes later following a free kick by Dewide Dos Santos. On the half hour mark Nadur protested for a penalty following an intervention by Xewkija’s goalie on Milos Stojanovic following a corner action. One minute late Xewkija almost took full advantage of a short clearance by Nadur’s goalie, but Dene Shields had his lob addressed towards an open goal that ended on the roof of the net. Nadur were unlucky on 39 minutes when Milos Stojanovic headed to Dewide Dos Santos inside Xewkija’s area but the latter had his strike stopped by the post. The same Dewide Dos Santos released Caludio Antunes inside Xewkija’s area on 43 minutes, the latter lobbed over goalie Steve Sultana but his header towards goal ended inches wide and seconds before half time Xewkija’s keeper was well placed to save a low shot by Dewide Dos Santos.
After the break Nadur maintained their momentum but Xewkija managed to be more effective at their defence and managed to keep their area clear of danger for most of the second period. However, Nadur still created some good scoring opportunities. On 57 minutes Xewkija’s keeper saved on the fatal line an attempt by Shaun Attard among protest from Nadur’s players alleging that the ball has cross the line. In another occasion on 64 minutes Milos Stojanovic headed wide from a good position following a corner kick by Dewide Dos Santos while Xewkija replied with a good action one minute later but Shaun Bajada hit badly from a good position and the ball ended away from Nadur’s goal. On 69 minutes Xewkija’s keeper Steve Sultana was called to make the best save of the afternoon to turn to a corner a strike by Dewide Dos Santos. Until the end of the match Nadur became frustrated and their efforts within Xewkija’s territory did not produce serious danger to goalie Steve Sultana. Xewkija gained more authority on the field as time passed by and threatened Nadur’s goal on two occasions through set pieces by Claudio Frances on 86 minutes and Shaun Bajada on the stroke of regular time that were both well saved by goalie Matthew Muscat.
As expected as the referee ordered the end of the encounter all Xewkija players, officials and supporters released themselves from all the tension of the match with spontaneous celebrations on the pitch and on the stands.
After the end of the match Mr Horace Laudi, the Regional Manager of the Bank of Valletta for Gozo, the GFA President Dr Samuel Azzopardi, in the presence of other GFA officials, presented the trophy and medals to Xewkija’s players and officials among the celebrations of the numerous supporters.
Referee: Glen Tonna