Narrow defeat for Under-19 side to Montenegro

After a hard-earned goalless draw against Montenegro on Saturday, the Malta Under-19 national team suffered an odd goal in three defeat on Tuesday against the same opposition. Despite being beaten, apart from the opening phase, the home side controlled the match and were unlucky not to equalise during the second half, in which they had clearly an upper-hand over the guests from the Balkan.  

As these two matches were played outside the international calendar, clubs were not obliged to release their players, which meant for the Malta team that only three from eight foreign based players were included in these series of games. Therefore, Lucas Caruana (Sampdoria), Basil Tuma (Reading), Braden Flannery (UNLV Rebels, USA), Lucas Scicluna (Wolverhampton Wanderers) and Alfie Bridgman (Bognor Regis) could not take part. Only Boavista players Sean Gatt and Jake Micallef and Alex Scicluna of Loughborough Dynamo were in the squad, the latter two in the starting line-up.

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All goals arrived in the opening twenty minutes. Montenegro were on fire and were initially the better team, breaking the deadlock on eleven minutes when Milan Jukic curled his shot from the edge of the area out of reach for Malta goalkeeper Beppe Mangion. The guests doubled on 17 minutes, punishing an unnecessary error from a dead-ball situation, with Nikola Medojevic drilling home from a Balsa Mrvaljevic assist. Two minutes later, Brooklyn Borg reduced the arrears by beating the off-side trap and goalkeeper Benjamin Krijestarac from close-range.

Just after the half-hour mark, Mangion turned a Krijestarac attempt into a corner, keeping the hosts in the match. Towards the end of the first half, Malta gained control and were unlucky when a Brooklyn Borg free-kick sailed inches wide.

Malta continued to show the better ideas after the break, but the forwards were often not reached which meant there was little goalmouth action in the Montenegro box. Montenegro also failed to create any goalscoring opportunities, with perhaps Medojevic’ free-kick on 70 minutes and Haris Durakovic’s attempt six minutes later as the only two wonderful opportunities to extend their lead. Fore the hosts, San Gwann’s Jake Grech was the most adventurous with three off-target attempts.

In March, Antonio Mendes Toze’s side will again play two Friendlies, with the opponents still to be decided. This will be during the international window, which means that Malta would be able to field the missing players.

Malta Beppe Mangion, Deacon Abela (Nathan Cope 63), Jake Vassallo (Jake Grech 46), Mattias Ellul, Jake Micallef, Matteo Gambin, Alex Spiteri, Andy Borg (Bjorn Buhagiar 83), Shaisen Attard (Zak Barbara 83), Brooklyn Borg (Ensell Attard 74), Kian Leonardi (Sean Gatt 63).

Montenegro Benjamin Krijestarac, Janko Vukicevic, Luka Bubanja, Rajko Popovic (Balsa Radulovic 76), Romario Camaj, Stefan Radojevic, Matija Delic (Eldin Adrovic 85), Marko Jukic (Haris Durakovic 68), Nikola Medojevic (Seid Adrovic 85), Marko Vracar (Milan Martinovc 85), Balsa Mrvaljevic (Andrija Radonjic 46).

Referee: Slawomir Olucha