A goal just before half-time gave ten-man Sliema Wanderers a narrow win over holders Birkirkara to secure a place in the final of the FA Trophy. The 41st final in the history of the club out of which they won a record twenty times.
The Wanderers, who had registered narrow wins over Vittoriosa Stars, Gharghur and St. Andrews in the previous rounds, managed to keep their opponents under control, even when they had a player sent off. In next Saturday’s final, Sliema will be facing the winner of the second semi-final between Balzan and Pembroke Athleta in programme on Sunday.
For Birkirkara, this was a disappointing finale for a season which had started with high hopes but ended without any silverware.
The two teams shared the exchanges for most of the first half but shots at goal were quite rare, apart from a Gary Muir freekick for Sliema and a powerful drive by Ryan Camenzuli for Birkirkara.
However Sliema managed to break the deadlock just before the end of the first half when Gary Muir served Jean Paul Farrugia from the left and the latter sent Mark Scerri through inside the area on the left with the latter passing the ball to Denni Rocha dos Santos who slotted the ball home from close range.
On the 59th, Peter Xuereb came to the rescue for Sliema as he cleared off the goal line a Cain Attard effort following a corner from the left by Mislav Andelkovic.
Two fouls in less than a minute on the 71st minute cost Gary Muir two yellow cards, therefore leaving the Wanderers in ten men for the last nineteen minutes. However the Blues controlled the Stripes in the remaining minutes to secure victory and a place in the final.
SLIEMA Entonjo Elezaj, Alex Muscat, Mark Scerri, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Marko Potezica, Peter Xuereb, Johann Bezzina, Denni Rocha dos Santos (67′ Njongo Priso), Gary Muir, Jean Paul Farrugia (87′ Armando Vieira dos Santos).
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Aidan Jake Friggieri, Michele Sansone, Omar Elouni, Luke Dimech.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
B’KARA Mirooslav Kopric, Cain Attard, Christian Bubalovic, Mauricio Mazzetti, Goran Mujanovic, Gareth Sciberras, Mislav Andelkovic, Kurt Zammit (46′ Ryan Darmanin), Frank Temile, Ryan Camenzuli (83′ Edward Herrera), Vito Plut.
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Edmond Agius, Matthew Guillaumier, Zachary Cassar, Fabien Lufi.
Coach: Drazen Besek
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant Referees: Jurgen Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Additional Assistant Referees: Mario Apap, Matthew De Gabriele
Fourth Official: William Debattista
Yellow Cards: Muir
Red Cards: 71′ Gary Muir