A high-octane encounter brought the 2016/17 Gatorade First Division season to a barnstorming finish as Msida and Sliema Wanderers contested the play-off final. Sliema managed to retain the title they had won last season after seeing off their tenacious opponents 6-5.
Bound by a mutual resolve to lay their hands on the title, the two finalists went through a roller-coaster ride of emotions and goals whilst showing their intent to attack from the off. The game was less than 60 seconds old when Sliema opened a quickfire double advantage through Nikolay Filipov and Christian Micallef. Msida maintained their composure and in no time they reduced the score through Mohammed Elamari. The Seasiders were on the offensive and the same Elamari levelled the matters minutes later after rolling the ball past Brandon Debono, the Sliema goalie. The latter keeper had to bow again when Chris Cardona hammered home to put Msida momentarily on the lead. Sliema surged forward in search of the equalizer and it was Paul Bugeja who hit the target to make it 3-3. Despite all this, Msida managed to install a 4-3 advantage on the stroke of half-time courtesy of a Herbert Spiteri goal.
Sliema opened the second half with a bang as they scored three goals in a short span of time. Aleksandar Ribic netted a brace to turn the tables for his team and Radovan Duric added another one. Nine seconds from the final whistle, Msida reduced the score through Ryan Xuereb but it was too late in the day.
At the end of the contest, Msida captain Alan Galea received the Gatorade First Division trophy from Mark Borg, the FMA president.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg