Qormi ended the first phase on a positive note as they came back from one goal down to beat ten-man Melita 2-1.
Jesmond Zerafa’s side will start the Relegation Pool with fifteen points. Melita, on the other hand, will start their second phase commitments on seven points.
The Amateurs lacked Julian Galea and Andrew Caruana Scicluna but Matthew Borg was back after missing the last game. Qormi, on the other hand, could not count on Jonathan Bajada and Alfred Effiong were ruled out through suspension.
Qormi had the first attempt at goal on the 15th minute with Kris Thackray going close with a direct freekick from the left. Melita replied with a Luke Micallef effort which was neutralised by Steve Sultana.
The Amateurs managed to take the lead on the 34th minute when off a cross by George Gribbon, Luke Micallef headed the ball down for Daniel Cabanillas Ayllon whose low shot from close-range beat Sultana.
Melita were however reduced to ten men two minutes from half-time when Karl Vella Petroni was first cautioned for time-wasting and immediately after was sent off for ironically applauding the referee’s decision.
Five minutes in the second half, Qormi hit the upright with an Edison Bilbao Zarate effort when served by Joseph Chetcuti on the left. Chetcuti then served Leighton Grech on the right flank on 62 minutes. A low shot by Edison Bilbao Zarate ended just wide seven minutes later.
Qormi levelled matters on 71 minutes when a cross by Leighton Grech from the right was partially saved by Guillermo Gabilondo Garcia and Ivan Tufegdzic was unlucky to deflect the ball past the goalkeeper for an own goal.
Tufegdzic almost committed a second own goal on 75 minutes when he deflected a shot by Leighton Grech with the ball surprising Gabilondo Garcia, ending into a corner. Seven minutes later, a direct freekick by Kris Thackray ended wide. Off a cross by Matthew Bartolo, Roderick Sammut’s effort hit the crossbar.
Qormi notched the winner one minute from time when off an Edison Bilbao Zarate cross from the left, Moises Avila Perez headed the ball home in style.
Leighton Grech was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MELITA Guillermo Gabilondo Garcia, Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho, Karl Vella Petroni, George Gribbon, Ivan Tufegdzic, Michael Martin, Nigel Rizzo, Luke Sammut (73’ Michael Valenzia), Daniel Cabanillas Ayllon (60’ Jorge Veloso Lourido)(80’ Rudi Alhinho), Luke Micallef, Matthew Borg.
Subs not used: Andrew Abela, Jean Pierre Attard, Marco Calleja, Marc Attard.
Coach: Patxi Salinas
Asst. Coach: Alejandro Martinez Lopez
QORMI Steve Sultana, Kris Thackray, Joseph Chetcuti, Moises Avila Perez, Luke Sciberras, Matthew Gauci, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Duncan Pisani (84’ Matthew Bartolo), Christian Cassar (59’ Roderick Sammut), Stephen Wellman, Leighton Grech (90’ Alessio Cassar).
Subs not used: Matthew Farrugia, Gilmore Azzopardi, Ismael Borg, Dylan Borg.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Asst. Coach: Joe Brincat
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Thomas Debono, Ingmar Spiteri
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: L. Micallef, Vella Petroni, L. Sammut, M. Borg, R. Sammut
Red Cards: 43’ Vella Petroni
Scorers: 34’ Daniel Cabanillas Ayllon (M); 79’ own goal Ivan Tufegdzic (Q); 89’ Moises Avila Perez (Q)
Sliema Wanderers will be starting the Championship Pool on nineteen points as they ended their first phase commitments with a 3-2 win over Balzan. The latter will start the Relegation Pool with fourteen points.
After a goalless first half, the match came to life after the break with Sliema taking a two-goal lead within the first three minutes. Balzan pulled one back but the Blues restored the lead although Balzan eventually reduced the gap once again.
The Wanderers lacked Henry Bonello, Luca Martinelli, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Mark Scerri and had goalkeeper James Abela making his debut. On the other hand, Matthew Camilleri, Bjorn Bondin, Dylan Grima, Rennie Forace, Renato Conceicao, Pedro Calcado and Elie Moises Akui N’Dekre were missing for Balzan.
Balzan showed better ideas in the first half, going close with attempts by Firas Aboulezz and Aaron Agius. Sliema replied with a shot by Ian Zammit on the 39th minute, following a cross by Luigi Ruggiero from the right.
Sliema took the lead two minutes in the second half when Alex Muscat served Matias Muchardi who controlled the ball before beating Dani Miguelez with a rising shot.
A minute later, the Wanderers doubled the score when Ian Zammit served substitute Stanley Ohawuchi who rounded Matthew Mendy before slotting the ball past the Balzan goalkeeper.
Balzan reduced the gap on 51 minutes thanks to Ryan Darmanin who concluded a good move with an angled shot from the right which beat goalkeeper James Abela.
Five minutes later, Sliema regained a two-goal lead with a goal by Alex Muscat who received a cross from the left and beat Miguelez with a powerful shot.
Elton Alexandre da Silva scored a second goal for Balzan when he received an assist by Aaron Agius and advanced into the area beating Abela with a diagonal shot from the left.
In a counter-attack for Sliema, Muchardi released Miguel Ciantar on the right and off the latter’s pass, Stanley Ohawuchi just failed to connect.
Matias Muchardi was voted BOV Player of the Match.
SLIEMA James Abela, Alex Muscat, Paltemio Barbetti, John Mintoff, Ian Zammit (60’ Miguel Ciantar), Luigi Ruggiero (46’ Stanley Ohawuchi), Ivan Woods, Shaun Bajada (89’ Beppe Muscat), Josef Mifsud, Matias Muchardi, Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Arial Laudisi, Alain Faccini, Ryan Dalli.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Asst. Coach: JoJo Bajada
BALZAN Daniel Miguelez Martinez, Aaron Agius (89’ Gianfranco Micallef, Jacob Borg, Stefan Giglio, Yessous Camilleri, Matthew Mendy, Jamie Pace, Firas Aboulezz, Christian Caruana (70’ Jonathan Francica), Elton Alexandre da Silva, Ryan Darmanin.
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Daniel Spiteri, Juan Carlos Corbalan, Matthew Mifsud, Andrew Cassar.
Coach: Joseph Borg
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Elton, Muchardi, Agius, Mintoff, Ohawuchi, Aboulezz, Mifsud, Francica
Scorers: 47’ Matias Muchardi, 48’ Stanley Ohawuchi, 51’ Ryan Darmanin, 56’ Alex Muscat, 79’ Elton Alexandre da Silva