Hamrun Spartans reached the semi-finals of the U*BET FA Trophy thanks to a fine 5-2 win over holders Sliema Wanderers.
It was a great performance by the Spartans who could have easily scored more goals especially during the first half. On the other hand, the Wanderers, who were coming from a heavy 0-4 defeat to Qormi in their last league outing, were once again a disappointing lot.
The Spartans managed to take the lead after just 41 seconds when a powerful shot by Marcelo Pereira from the left was deflected by a defender past goalkeeper Simon Agius.
Three minutes later, Hamrun doubled the score when Obinna Obiefule entered the area from the left, serving Gaetan Spiteri who hit low past the Sliema goalkeeper.
The Wanderers replied with a Lucian Dronca header off a corner from right which was cleared off the goal line by Mark Anthony Bonnici on the 10th minute. A minute later, Alcorse anticipated Ivan Casha off a cross by Pedrinho but the Argentine striker hit just wide. On the other side of the pitch, a freekick by Clayton Failla scraped past the post.
Sliema reduced the gap on 18 minutes thanks to a direct freekick by Pedro Dos Santos Calcado which gave Ivan Casha no chance.
The Hamrun custodian then performed a great save on a powerful drive by Clayton Failla from the left on 24 minutes. One minute later, following a corner by Failla, Ryan Fenech tried his luck with a low shot from the edge of the area but his attempt was blocked by Rupert Mangion.
However on 29 minutes, the Spartans made it 3-1 when a cross from the right created havoc inside the area and Roderick Fenech beat Agius with a low shot from the left.
Marcelo Pereira missed an incredible chance to increase the lead further three minutes later when Gaetan Spiteri intelligently served him inside the area and after rounding the goalkeeper, the Brazilian striker hit incredibly high.
Eight minutes from the end of the first half, the two teams ended playing in ten men after Ian Zammit and Pedro Dos Santos Calcado were both sent off by referee Clayton Pisani following a clash between the two players.
Pereira missed another good opportunity on 42 minutes when he advanced all alone when served by Rupert Mangion on the left but concluded high.
The Spartans went close once again with a freekick from the right by Clyde Camoin which was not held by Simon Agius but the ball was cleared into safety by a defender before Gaetan Spiteri could conclude two minutes in the second half.
Obinna Obiefule made it 4-1 for Hamrun on 61 minutes when he entered the penalty area and rounded a defender before hitting low past Simon Agius.
On the 70th, Hamrun were awarded a penalty after Agius floored Obinna Obiefule inside the area. From the penalty spot, Obiefule made no mistake.
A minute later, Sliema scored a second goal when a shot by Mifsud Triganza was partially saved by Ivan Casha and off the rebound, Ivan Woods placed the ball at the back of the net.
HAMRUN Ivan Casha, Mark Anthony Bonnici, Clyde Camoin, Roderick Fenech (56’ Jonathan Holland), Martin Hrubsa, Rupert Mangion, Ian Zammit, Manolito Micallef, Gaetan Spiteri (86’ Mead Mifsud), Obinna Obiefule, Marcelo Pereira (87’ Mark Barbara).
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Aaron Attard, Lee James Agius, Timothy Fleri Soler.
Coach: Stephen D’Amato
Asst. Coach: Marco Grech
SLIEMA Simon Agius, Alex Muscat, Ian Azzopard, Josef Mifsud, Ryan Fenech (68’ John Mintoff), Mark Scerri, Ivan Woods, Lucian Dronca (46’ Clifford Gatt Baldacchino), Julio Cesar Alcorse (46’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Pedro Dos Santos Calcado, Clayton Failla.
Subs not used: Jeremy Alden, Noel Turner, Amadeo Mercieca, Ian Ciantar.
Coach: Mark Marlow
Team Manager: Rupert Perry
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Joe Camilleri
Fourth Official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: G. Spiteri, R. Mangion, Gatt Baldacchino, S. Agius, M. Scerri, C. Failla, M. Pereira, M. Mifsud
Red Cards: 37’ Ian Zammit, 37’ Pedro Dos Santos Calcado
Scorers: 1′ Marcelo Pereira (H); 4′ Gaetan Spiteri (H); 18′ Pedro Dos Santos Calcado (S); 29′ Roderick Fenech (H); 61’ Obinna Obiefule (H); 71’ Obinna Obiefule (H); 72’ Ivan Woods (S)
Meanwhile Valletta secured a place in the semi-finals of the FA Trophy after beating BOV Premier League leaders Birkirkara 3-1 in the second quarter-final.
The two teams were facing each other just one week after the Stripes registered a narrow win over Valletta to move four points clear on top of the table.
Two goals in the first twenty-two minutes gave Ton Caanen’s side a comfortable lead and although the Stripes tried to get back in the game, Valletta controlled them well, even after having captain Gilbert Agius sent off.
The Citizens managed to take the lead after just six minutes when Njongo Priso sent Jamie Pace through and the latter hit low past Jorge Mora. The goal brought protests by the Birkirkara due to Pace’s rather dubious offside position.
One minute later, another through pass found Michael Mifsud all alone in front of the goalkeeper but the Malta international striker failed to control, allowing a defender to clear the ball into safety. From the resulting corner, Priso’s effort was turned into another corner by Jorge Mora.
Valletta doubled the score on 22 minutes when off a Roderick Briffa cross fro the right, Michael Mifsud headed home.
Birkirkara replied with a good pass by Trevor Cilia for Karl Pulo from the right on 34 minutes but the latter’s shot ended just wide.
Nine minutes in the second half, Gilbert Agius hit the upright for Valletta with a direct freekick from the left. Two minutes later, Michael Galea headed high off a cross by Trevor Cilia. Galea returned the complement to Cilia on 62 minutes but the latter’s low shot was neutralised by Andrew Hogg.
Valletta were reduced to ten men on 65 minutes after Gilbert Agius was sent off by referee Chris Lautier for passing remarks soon after receiving a yellow card.
However the Citizens went close once again on the 70th when Michael Mifsud concluded a solo effort with a rising shot ending just over the bar. Three minutes later, Mifsud released Priso on the left but the latter’s shot was deflected by the Spanish goalkeeper.
Birkirkara pulled one back nine minutes from time when off a cross by Joseph Zerafa from the left, Micahel Galea rose high to head home past goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
On 84 minutes, Andrew Hogg blocked a good attempt by Trevor Cilia and four minutes later, the same player missed a good opportunity when he failed to connect when in front of the Valletta goalkeeper. On the other side of the pitch, Michael Mifsud concluded a solo run on the left flank with a low shot which hit the foot of the post. Then on 91 minutes, Michael Mifsud took advantage of an erratic pass by Jorge Mora but concluded high.
Three minutes in added time, substitute Declan O’Brien sealed the issue with a third goal when served by Michael Mifsud on the right as he beat Mora with a low shot. The ball hit the upright before ending at the back of the net.
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Jordi Cruijff, Roderick Briffa (77’ Declan O’Brien), Steve Bezzina, Steve Borg, Jamie Pace, Njongo Priso, Luke Dimech, Gilbert Agius, Terence Scerri (63’ Kevin Sammut), Michael Mifsud.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Cleavon Frendo, Dylan Grima, Dyson Falzon, Edmond Agius.
Coach: Ton Caanen
Team Manager: Nicky Saliba
B’KARA Jorge Mora, Joseph Zerafa, Nikola Vukanac, Branko Nisevic, Shaun Bajada, Angus Buhagiar, Paul Fenech (81’ Alan Tabone), Rowen Muscat, Karl Pulo, Michael Galea, Trevor Cilia.
Subs not used: Omar Borg, Thomas Paris, Andrew Scicluna, Carlo Mamo, George Mallia, Andreas Galea.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Team Manager: Mario Gatt
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Konrad Borg, Mariano Debono
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Vukanac, Agius, Pulo, Muscat, O’ Brien
Scorers: 6′ Jamie Pace (V), 22’ Michael Mifsud (V); 81’ Michael Galea (B); 90+3′ Declan O’Brien (V)