Xaghra regain the second spot with a dramatic win

by | Feb 6, 2023 | 22/23, GFL 2nd Div, Match Report, News

4 February 2023

GFA BOV Gozo Football League Division II (MD 10) Kercem Arkafort Stadium

Zebbug Rovers FC : 2

Xaghra United FC : 3

10’ (1-0) Lorenzo Atzori

45+2’ (1-1) Leiner Garcia Panesso

54’ (2-1) Lorenzo Atzori

73’ (2-2) Joel Xuereb

87’ (red card) Daniel Mesa Pineros (ZR)

90+10’ (2-3) Joel Xuereb

Zebbug R:

B. Saliba, P. Spiteri, M. Formosa (P. Muscat), A. Abela, C. Gauci, G. Debrincat (N.J. Cini),  L. Atzori, D. Mesa Pineros, E. Gauci, C. Cauchi, M. Gauci (O. Atzori).

Xaghra U:

L. Xuereb, J. Bajada (L. Meilak), M. Cordina (J. Xuereb), S. Sultana (L. Sultana), M. Mamo, D. Azzopardi (G. Debono), E. Galea (S. Bonello) K. Mercieca, F.J. Xuereb, M. Bezzina, L. Garcia Panesso.

Xaghra United extended their recovery in the campaign and obtained three very important points, from a win with the odd goal from five, in the direct clash for second place against Zebbug Rovers.  This was the last match of the second round for the two sides and both Zebbug and Xaghra needed a win to keep close to the current leaders.  Xaghra were also aiming to take revenge for the defeat conceded in the match against Zebbug of the first round and was looking to move over Zebbug on the table.  With this result, Xaghra are now in the runners-up position with six points behind the leaders, while Zebbug saw their gap from the top position increasing to seven points.

The match was quite balanced with Zebbug taking the lead on two occasions but Xaghra had an effective reaction and recovered the deficit.  However, the turning point of the encounter arrived minutes away from the end of regular time when the match seemed heading toward a draw of four goals.  In this episode, Zebbug had a player sent off and due to the same incident, the match was suspended for a long time until Xaghra’s player was medicated.  When play resumed, Xaghra increased their pressure on Zebbug’s defence and managed to turn the result in their favour by scoring a dramatic decisive goal and there was not much time left for the Rovers to save the result.  The hero for Xaghra was undoubtedly Joel Xuereb, who came onto the field of play as a substitute and ended up scoring the important goals for his side.

Timeline:

Xaghra tried to take command of play from the early stages of the encounter but they found it difficult to create danger towards Zebbug’s goal and the latter were well organised in their defence.  The Rovers took the driving seat after ten minutes of play and for most of the first half, they neutralised Xaghra’s reaction but ended up conceding the equaliser seconds away from the break.

10’ (1-0) Zebbug opened the score in their first serious action within Xaghra’s territory when Daniel Mesa Pineros passed to Lorenzo Atzori who was at an angled position but the latter surprised the defence and fired in goal with a curling shot.

29’ Zebbug’s Daniel Mesa Pineros entered Xaghra’s territory with a personal action but his low shot was well saved by goalie Lorjean Xuereb.

30’ Xaghra could have created more danger when Leiner Garcia Panesso passed to Kenneth Mercieca inside Zebbug’s area but the latter hit badly from a good position and the goalkeeper saved without difficulty.

44’ Xaghra missed another potential scoring opportunity but Kenneth Mercieca failed to connect to an inviting cross from the right flank by Johann Bajada. 

45+2’ (1-1) Xaghra managed to level the score when Leiner Garcia Panesso passed Zebbug’s defence from the right flank and surprised the goalkeeper with a fine shot towards the far post that ended out of the reach of the goalkeeper.

HT (1-1)

Second Half

Play became much more interesting after the break as the two sides came out with the intention to take the lead so that the outcome of the encounter remained uncertain until the final whistle.

2’ Xaghra went close to turn the result in their favour but an attempt directly from a free kick by Michael Bezzina was saved by goalie Baskal Saliba with the aid of the crossbar and from the result melee the same goalkeeper recovered and saved the danger.

9’ (2-1) Zebbug once again took the lead when Lorenzo Atzori surprised Xaghra’s goalie with a fine lob from the left-hand side with the ball hitting the crossbar and the post before ending in the net.

11’ Xaghra replied with an effort by Michael Bezzina that ended just over the crossbar.

15’ Zebbug’s goalie Baskal Saliba was called to make a good save to block a header by Daniel Azzopardi following a corner action.

28’ (2-2) Xaghra scored their second equaliser when Leiner Garcia Panesso lobbed over the goalkeeper following a cross from the right flank and Joel Xuereb, who came on the field of play before the hour mark, followed the action and concluded into an open goal.

35’ Xaghra could have turned the result in their favour when Leiner Garcia Panesso lobbed over Zebbug’s goalie but substitute Luke Sultana headed badly with an open goal at his mercy and the ball ended high.

41’ (goal disallowed) Zebbug’s Daniel Mesa Pineros headed in the net following a free kick by Carl Gauci but the goal was disallowed for an offside infringement.

42’ (red card) Zebbug were reduced to ten players when Daniel Mesa Pineros was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Daniel Azzopardi.

The play was suspended for around twelve minutes until Xaghra’s player got medication and was taken to the hospital for verification. 

45+10’ (2-3) Xaghra took immediate advantage of the extra player on the field and as soon as play resumed, Joel Xuereb received the ball inside Zebbug’s area following a  cross from the right and concluded easily in goal with a low shot.

45+17’ Xaghra could have sealed the win but a strike by Leiner Garcia Panesso after receiving from substitute Geordie Debono ended just high.

45+18’ Zebbug’s goalie denied Xaghra from scoring another goal when he blocked a close-ranged attempt by Joel Xuereb following a cross from the left flank.

FT (ZR 2 – XU 3)

Referee: Darko Stankovic

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