14 April 2023
GFA Division II KO Final Gozo Stadium
Zebbug Rovers FC : 0
Xaghra United FC: 1
58’ (0-1) Leiner Garcia Panesso
B. Saliba, A. Abela, C. Gauci, G. Debrincat (M. Camilleri Psaila), R. Saliba, L. Atzori, D. Mesa Pineros, E. Gauci (C. Cauchi), M. Gauci, P. Muscat (N.J. Cini), M. Matthew (P. Spiteri).
L. Xuereb, S. Galea, C. Debono (L. Sultana), J. Xuereb (K. Mercieca), M. Cordina, M. Mamo, D. Azzopardi, E. Galea (L. Meilak), F.J. Xuereb, M. Bezzina (J. Bajada), L. Garcia Panesso.
Xaghra United made up for their disappointment, of not winning the second division campaign and the second division Challenge Cup, by lifting the second most important honour of the category with a 1-0 win in the final against holders of the Knock Out competition Zebbug Rovers.
The match pulled a sizeable crowd to the Gozo Stadium and the two sides lived up to the expectations as the match was very well contested. Zebbug held the initiative of play for most of the first half but they did not manage to convert their play into scoring opportunities also that Xaghra took command of play from the beginning of the second period and scored the goal that decided the issue just before the hour mark. Zebbug tried hard to recover the deficit but Xaghra were determined and managed t protect their area from danger for the rest of the encounter.
After the match, Xaghra United’s players and staff were presented with the KO trophy and medals by the President of the Gozo Football Association and other officials of the association.
Zebbug were more adventurous during most of the first part of the encounter and for some time they also produced pressure on Xaghra’s rear guard where they could have opened the score. Xaghra settled better as time passed by and started to share play in the midfield and also threatened on some occasions Zebbug’s defence.
7’ The Rovers could have created more danger when Daniel Mesa Pineros passed inside Xaghra’s area with a personal initiative but he hit badly at the end and the ball ended away from the goal.
9’ The same Columbian striker released Zebbug’s Lorenzo Atzori on the right side of Xaghra’s area but the defence recovered in time and denied the young striker from concluding towards the goal from a good position.
10’ Xaghra’s goalie Lorjean Xuereb was well placed and neutralised without difficulty a shot by Daniel Mesa Pineros.
20’ (crossbar) Xaghra were unlucky in their first serious attempt towards Zebbug’s goal as a shot directly from a free kick by Matthias Cordina hit the crossbar.
23’ The Rovers replied with a free kick from a long distance by Manuel Gauci that ended wide.
34’ Zebbug’s Lorenzo Atzori had a shot from outside the area that missed the target.
38’ Xaghra were dangerous through a shot from an angled position by Joel Xuereb but the ball ended wide.
39’ Xaghra could have created more danger when Leiner Garcia Panesso ran away from the defence but his shot ended away from Zebbug’s goal.
45+2’ Zebbug’s Manuel Gauci had another attempt from a long-range free-kick but the goalkeeper was well placed and saved without difficulty.
Xaghra came out more aggressive after the break and managed to take the driving seat with a goal scored before the hour mark. Zebbug’s reaction was sterile as Xaghra grew in confidence and administered their lead with authority.
13’ (0-1) Xaghra opened the score when Zebbug’s defence failed to clear a cross from the right flank and the ball arrived to Christian Debono who passed to Leiner Garcia Panesso who turned around his direct opponent and fired in goal with a fine strike that ended out of the reach of the goalkeeper.
23’ (red card from the bench) Zebbug became nervous and had substitute Matthion Formosa sent off from the bench after receiving two consecutive yellow cards for protests with the match officials.
30’ The Rovers could have created more danger but an attempt directly from a free kick just outside the area by Daniel Mesa Pineros ended away from goal.
42’ Xaghra could have sealed the win by scoring a second goal when substitute Luke Sultana passed Zebbug’s defence but his attempt towards the lower corner of the net ended wide.
45’ Xaghra went again close to adding another goal when a cross by substitute Luke Meilak arrived to an unmarked Kenneth Mercieca, who also entered the field of play as a substitute during the second period, but the latter saw his header got a deflection by the defence and play resumed with a corner kick.
FT (ZR 0 – XU 1)
Referee: Anthony Paul Vella