The Malta Under-16 girls team found the going tough in their opening game of the UEFA Youth Girls Development Tournament, suffering a 4-0 defeat to Scotland.
Scotland opened a three-goal lead in the first half to all but secure their win but the 4-0 scoreline does not reflect Malta’s positive performance in the first 45 minutes with Dionne Tonna’s girls creating more open-play chances than their opponents. However, unlike Scotland, the Maltese girls failed to make their pressure count and ultimately paid the price for this.
For this game, coach Tonna started with Birkirkara goalkeeper Maya Cachia. Mġarr United defender Alexandra Gatt was named captain with last year’s BOV Women’s League top scorer Haley Bugeja, also of Mġarr United, also included in the starting formation.
Scotland coach Paul Brownlie selected a strong squad composed mainly of players coming from the youth ranks of Celtic and Rangers.
The early exchanges were balanced with Scotland capitalising on the first noteworthy action of the game through Hannah Robinson who found the net from the edge of the box.
Moments later, Malta squandered a great chance to level terms when Bugeja dribbled past the goalkeeper but could not direct the ball into the empty net.
Scotland also missed a chance from point-blank range after captain Kenzie Weir misjudged the ball. Nonetheless, they made it 2-0 when Weir converted from the penalty spot.
In the 35th minute, Malta missed a couple of chances. Bugeja saw her low drive blocked by Scotland custodian and Yulya Carella’s rebound sailed over the bar. A minute later, Hannah Khatib nipped behind Scotland’s defensive line and darted towards goal before being denied by Scotland’s goalkeeper Ciare Duff.
On the brink of half-time, Sophia Martin extended Scotland’s lead to 3-0 when she profited from a mistake at the back before firing past Cachia.
After the break, Scotland’s Emma Watson made it 4-0 to seal the win for her team. Thereafter, Scotland had the better chances but were denied by Malta goalkeepert Cachia.
Malta’s next game is against Gibraltar on Sunday at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off 13.30).
In Friday’s second match, Azerbaijan beat Gibraltar 2-0.
MALTA Maya Cachia, Martina Fenech, Alexandra Gatt (C), Rhea Borg, Eunice Micallef, Yulya Carella, Michaela Cachia, Hannah Khatib, Illeana Farrugia, Sarah Vella Barberi, Haley Bugeja.
Subs used: Georgiana Mifsud, Iulia Mifsud, Federica Zahra.
SCOTLAND Ciare Duff, Eilidh Martina, Niamh Noble, Kenzie Weir, Tegan Browning, Kirsty MacLean, Olivia Potter, Sophia Martin, Emma Watson, Aimee Anderson, Hannah Robinson.
Subs used: Keira Chutter, Tire Burchill, Abigail Ferguson, Maria McAneny, Hannah Davie, Olivia King, Summer Christie, Rosie Slater.
Referee: Raiden Psaila