Sheffield United won the second edition of the JPL Cisk Lager Cup after defeating Vittoriosa Stars and Hibernians in a triangular tournament at the Hibernians Stadium on Friday.
In the first game, Vittoriosa and Hibernians shared the spoils in a goalless draw but the Paolites emerged as winners, 3-1 in the penalty shoot-out. As losers, Vittoriosa met Sheffield United in the second game. Richard Cresswell scored the all-important goal on 14 minutes.
The last game between Sheffield United and Hibernians therefore had to decide the issue. Daniel Bogdanovic converted a penalty to put the Blades ahead and Chappell doubled the score on 32 minutes to give them a 2-0 win.
Sheffield United vs Vittoriosa Stars 1-0
The game’s first whistle coincided with a cacophony of fireworks in the distance and United went on to send Vittoriosa’s hopes up in smoke with a comprehensive win that wasn’t reflected by the scoreline.
The Stars didn’t touch the ball in the first two minutes before Morgan’s short backpass forced Aksalu into a hurried kicked clearance. A minute later he dropped onto Anthony Ewurum’s weak shot and in the swift counter Bogdanovic was at the point but it was a more measured attack that led to him cutting inside and curling a right-footer just beyond the goalkeeper’s left hand post.
United were now definitely in control and their sharp passing brought several corner-kicks but it was a left-wing cross by Yeates in free play that brought the goal in the 14th minute. Cresswell steamed in unmarked at the far post to guide his header downwards and into the net from close range.
Yeates’ free-kick at goal was blocked with the keeper all at sea and twice Ward was felled in the box with no positive response from the referee. The Stars broke out but a shot way off target and high was all they could muster. In the 23rd minute persistence from Bogdanovic won possession and when Yeates switched play cleverly Ward lashed a volley just off target with the keeper well beaten. Seconds later young Kingsley James was desperately unlucky when he burst into the area on to a pass from the Maltese International but was quickly blocked by the keeper’s brave intervention.
On the half hour, Anthony Ewurum beat the offside trap by a country mile but ran on and shot wide with Aksalu totally exposed. Bogdanovic popped up on the left and tried his luck on the angle and his deflected shot spun crazily in the air and was tipped to safety at the very last second.
The Maltese side then failed to stop Cresswell getting to Kozluk’s cross at the front post but his contact was flawed.
Sheffield United vs Hibernians 2-0
The Blades made five changes for the final game a few minutes later and Aksalu was soon relieved to see a swinging shot from the right by Grech sail just past the post.
But a lovely move after six minutes paved the way for United to take another early lead, this time from the penalty spot. Ertl pumped another accurate diagonal pass from right to left for Yeates to play in the advancing youngster Roe who was tripped. Bogdanovic won the wrestling match with Evans to grab the ball and stroked it firmly into the net.
Chappell had a decent chance to add to the lead but chipped too high when the goalkeeper headed straight to him. Then Evans failed to convert a centre from the young winger as the screws began to be tightened, and Foster came on for Bogdanovic who was applauded off by the noisy United contingent. Evans shrugged aside his marker to give himself a clear run at goal but disappointingly scuffed his shot straight at the goalkeeper.
In the 32nd minute Chappell claimed a nicely taken goal to open up a two goal lead. Taking a square pass from Evans he steadied himself before placing a left-foot drive low into the bottom right hand corner.
Hibs hadn’t managed to take advantage of the fact that the Blades had made numerous changes, although the bustling Foster picked up a yellow card after tangling with his marker. With three minutes left Foster outmuscled his opponent as Evans had done previously, but this time his powerful shot was brilliantly deflected over by the goalkeeper.
Chris Morgan lifted the trophy during the post match awards as all three teams gathered on the pitch.