Zebbug Rovers reach third consecutive final of the 2nd Division KO competition

by | Apr 6, 2024 | 20/21, GFL 2nd Div, Match Report, News

2 April 2024

GFA 2nd Division KO (S/final 1) Gozo Stadium

Munxar Falcons FC: 1

Zebbug Rovers FC : 3

35’ (0-1) Harry Paulin

37’ (0-2) Nathan John Cini

67’ (1-2) Vitor Gabriel Soarez Souza

80’ (1-3) Ebube Ralph Okpokwu

Munxar F:

J. Micallef, K. Borg, D. Bajada (L. Meilak 56), P. Parnis, E. Bugeja (M. Zammit 69), K. Farrugia, I. Belhadj, N. Mifsud, N. Mercieca, V.G. Soarez Souza, E. Galea.

Zebbug R:

G. Saliba, P. Spiteri, M. Formosa, G. Grech (J. Azzopardi 72), K. Mifsud, H. Paulin (J. Magro 90+3), P.P. Camilleri, N.J. Cini, L. Portelli, E.R. Okpokwu, Ju. Attard.

Zebbug Rovers qualified for the final of the 2nd Division Knock Out competition with a convincing 3-1 win over Munxar Falcons in the first semi-final match.  This will be Zebbug’s third consecutive final in this second most important honour of the category in Gozitan football, which they won two seasons ago but were defeated in the final of last season.

This semi-final match turned out the be quite interesting.  In their previous three matches of the second division campaign, two ended in a draw while Munxar won on the other occasion.  In this match, Zebbug opened a two-goal lead during the first period but Munxar staged a determined reaction after the break, reduced the deficit and increased their efforts in an attempt to level the score.  However, the issue was practically decided with Zebbug’s third goal that arrived ten minutes away from the end of regular time during a patch of the encounter where Munxar were producing their maximum effort to recover the score.

Photo: Anthony Cassar

Timeline:

The two sides came out for this match with the intention of scoring an early goal but the defensive departments were well-organised and made it difficult for the respective strikers to create serious danger.  Zebbug however capitalised from a good moment after the half-hour mark and scored two goals in the space of two minutes to take the break with a comfortable lead.

10’ Zebbug had the first attempt towards the goal of the encounter that arrived through an initiative by Ebube Ralph Okpokwu that was saved without difficulty by Munxar’s goalie Joel Micallef.

11’ Munxar had an immediate reaction through a low shot from outside the area by Nathaniel Mercieca but the ball ended just wide.

22’ Zebbug went very close to taking the lead when Paul Spiteri delivered a good cross from the right flank and the ball arrived to an unmarked Ebube Ralph Okpokwu who saw his header was saved to a corner by goalie Joel Micallef.

29’ Zebbug’s goalie Gabriel Saliba was well placed to neutralise a header by Vitor Gabriel Soarez Souza following a cross from the right flank by Eman Bugeja.

35’ (0-1) Zebbug broke the deadlock when Ebube Ralph Okpokwu released Harry Paulin inside Munxar’s area and the latter netted with a low drive towards the far post.

37’ (0-2) The Rovers gained confidence and doubled their lead through a fine shot from an angled position by Nathan John Cini, after receiving from Ebube Ralph Okpokwu, that ended out of the reach of Munxar’s goalie Joel Micallef.

43’ Munxar replied with an attempt from outside the area by Keith Farrugia but the ball ended wide.

45+1’ Zebbug could have increased their lead when Harry Paulin crossed from the right flank, after receiving from Ebube Ralph Okpokwu, but Nathan John Cini incredibly lifted over the crossbar with an open goal at his mercy.

HT (0-2)

Second Half

Munxar came out for the second period more determined to re-open the issue and as time passed by they produced pressure on Zebbug’s defence.  The match became much more exciting when Munxar reduced the deficit midway through the second half but Zebbug surprised their opponents with a counterbreak ten minutes away from the end of the match and scored their third goal to make sure of the qualification.

12’ A good shot by Munxar’s Nathaniel Mercieca ended just wide.

16’ Munxar’s Vitor Gabriel Soarez Souza had an attempt from outside the area but the ball ended away from goal.

21’ Zebbug went very close to adding another goal but an attempt from a free kick by Harry Paulin was well saved by Munxar’s goalie Joel Micallef.

22’ (1-2) Munxar managed to reduce the deficit in the following action when they operated a counter break and Vitor Gabriel Soarez Souza concluded in goal with a fine strike from outside the area that did not give any opportunity to the goalkeeper to block the danger.

25’ The same Vitor Gabriel Soarez Souza went very close to level the score but his shot ended just wide.

35’ (1-3) Zebbug re-established their two-goal lead when Ebube Raph Okpokwu received from substitute Joston Azzopardi and passed through Munxar’s defence and placed in goal with a fine shot towards the opposite corner of the net.

45+5’ Munxar were denied from scoring a second goal when a close-ranged shot by Nathaniel Mercieca was well saved by Zebbug’s goalie Gabriel Saliba.

FT (MF 1 – ZR 3)

Referee: Anthony Paul Vella

Photo: Anthony Cassar

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