Narrow win for Qormi — Sliema, Floriana share spoils in draw

Qormi started season 2012/13 on a positive note as they collected the three points in a narrow win over newly-promoted Rabat Ajax.

Both sides failed to impress in their first outing but Stephen Azzopardi’s side had an edge over their opponents throughout the ninety minutes.

The Magpies had Gaetano Gesualdi, Ivan Carapic, Heiner Backhaus, Nerijus Astrauskas and Manuel Moral Fuster making their debut. On the other hand, Matthew Gauci and Leighton Grech were the only new faces in the Qormi line-up.

The two teams shared the exchanges in the early stages but Qormi managed to take the lead on 19 minutes through Joseph Chetcuti, served by Leighton Grech on the right, who chipped the ball over goalkeeper Sean Mintoff.

The Yellows now held the initiative but only went close to doubling the score just before half-time with a cross shot by Jonathan Bondin which was neutralised by the Rabat goalkeeper. In added time, a defensive blunder paved the way for Matthew Bartolo but the latter’s attempt ended just wide.

Rabat replied with a diagonal shot by Adam Smeir from the right ending just wide on 61 minutes. On the other side of the pitch, a powerful freekick by Kris Thackray was partially saved by Mintoff on the 78th and off the rebound, Bello-Osagie’s effort was blocked by Carapic.

One minute in added time, the Magpies went close to equalising when off a Dylan Falzon cross from the right, Justin Felice’s fine header was turned into a corner in style by Qormi goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia. Three minutes later, Adam Smeir hit the crossbar with a powerful shot from the left.

Joseph Chetcuti was voted BOV Player of the Match.

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RABAT Sean Mintoff, Gaetano Gesualdi (55’ Christian Muscat), Christopher Schembri, Ivan Carapic, Heiner Backhaus (62’ Joseph Caruana), Nerijus Astrauskas, Adam Smeir, Manuel Moral Fuster, Dylan Falzon, Ryan Micallef (79’ Justin Felice), Yan Cauchi.
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Clive Brincat, Kurt Muscat, Shaun Gauci.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joe Galea

QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Kris Thackray, Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo, Joseph Chetcuti (84’ Carmelo Farrugia), Abubakar Bello-Osagie, Luke Sciberras, Matthew Gauci, Gabriel Buttigieg (69’ Stephen Wellman), Jonathan Bondin, Leighton Grech (79’ Alessio Cassar).
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Jeremy Farrugia, Kane Guedjouma, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi

Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Mariano Debono, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Grech, Gauci, Carapic
Scorers: 19’ Joseph Chetcuti

In the second match, Sliema Wanderers and Floriana shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

Both clubs had a number of changes since last season. The Wanderers, for the first time under the guidance of Italian coach Alfonso Greco, welcomed back Ivan Woods and John Mintoff after both returned to the club from Floriana and Miguel Ciantar who played for Balzan last season. Making their debut were Branislav Timotic, Matias Muchardi and Pablo Gonzales together with Omar El Ghaouti and David Fenech who were included as substitutes.

Floriana, with Mark Wright as their new coach, had two new players in the starting line-up – Kane Farrugia and Valdo Alhinho while Trevor Cilia was included as a substitute.

The Blues held the initiative early in the game, going close on 11 minutes through Alex Muscat who missed a good opportunity from in front of the goalkeeper. Three minutes later, Beppe Muscat hit high for the Wanderers. On the other side of the pitch, a fine freekick by Valdo Alhinho was turned into a corner by goalkeeper Henry Bonello on 28 minutes.

Floriana managed to break the deadlock on 31 minutes when off a cross from the left by Christian Caruana, Valdo Alhinho headed the ball past goalkeeper Henry Bonello.

The Wanderers replied with an Alex Muscat effort which was turned into a corner on 34 minutes and from the resulting corner by Pablo Gonzales, Ivan Woods headed the ball past goalkeeper Jurgen Borg.

A fine lob by Christian Caruana four minutes from the end of the first half ended just over the bar. Two minutes later, Ivan Woods hit the crossbar from a freekick.

Eleven minutes in the second half, Floriana went close with a Ryan Darmanin from the left and three minutes later, Alhinho tested Henry Bonello with a low shot from outside the area. On 74 minutes, off an erratic clearance by Alhinho, Pablo Gonzales’s first time effort was deflected into a corner.

In added time, Floriana almost clinched the winner but Valdo Alinho’s direct freekick was neutralised by Henry Bonello.

Valdo Alhinho was voted BOV Player of the Match.

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SLIEMA Henry Bonello, John Mintoff, Branislav Timotic, Josef Mifsud, Luca Martinelli, Matias Muchardi, Beppe Muscat, Pablo Gonzales (77’ Omar El Ghaouti), Alex Muscat, Ivan Woods, Miguel Ciantar (69’ Andrew Decesare).
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Andrew Caligari, David Fenech, Gabriel Aquilina, Dale Micallef.
Coach: Alfonso Greco

FLORIANA Jurgen Borg, Thomas Paris (78’ Sacha Borg), Tyrone Farrugia, Owen Bugeja, Kane Farrugia, Brooke Farrugia, Valdo Alhinho, Clyde Borg (68’ Trevor Cilia), Duncan Pisani, Christian Caruana, Ryan Darmanin.
Subs not used: Luke Falzon, Jermain Brincat, Francesco Guzman, Mark Spiteri, Luke Scorfna.
Coach: Mark Wright
Asst. Coach: Alan Lewer

Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: B. Farrugia, J. Mintoff, T. Farrugia, C. Borg, C. Caruana, M. Muchardi, B. Muscat
Scorers: 31’ Valdo Alhinho (F); 35’ Ivan Woods (S)
Attendance: 969