The Malta Under-19 team played their second friendly match in the space of three days against their counterparts of Lithuania. The first match last Wednesday ended in a goalless draw and today, once more, the teams shared the spoils with a goal in each half.
It was an entertaining match to watch, dominated from start to finish by the hosts, who should have claimed a victory. However, the sturdy Lithuanians cleared practically everything coming their way, with their four-man defence never putting a foot wrong.
Photo courtesy of Charisse Agius/Malta FA
Malta made their intentions clear from the start, with Lucas Scicluna’s shot from the edge of the box being turned into a corner by Jurgen Miksiumas, the Lithuanian goalkeeper, on eight minutes. In the attack on the other side that followed, the guests took the lead. Justas Pastukas was sent through the middle, with Karl Sargent initially blocking his attempt, but the ball fell into the path of Adrian Lickunas who scored from the edge of the area.
The hosts continued to dominate up to the 35th minute, creating a few on target shots through Andrew Borg, Scicluna and Deacon Abela, all paraded with relative ease by Miksiumas. The Lithuanians came more into the picture in the last ten minutes of the first half, but without creating much danger in the Malta box. The best chance for the Reds arrived in stoppage time from a Scicluna corner, with Abela’s header slamming against the crossbar and Sven Xerri’s rebound bouncing off the post.
It was more of the same after lemon time, with Malta continuously attacking, trying to find a way through. The hard work paid off just after the hour, when Brooklyn Borg showed some magnificent skill on the left flank, passing to Andrew Borg who produced a diagonal grounder, which found the net via the post. On 76 minutes, the guests escaped when Xerri’s header was cleared of the goal line after another Scicluna corner kick. With three minutes regular time left on the clock, substitute Nathan Cross had his header turned into a corner by the Lithuanian goalkeeper, who tipped his attempt over the crossbar. Malta claimed a penalty in stoppage time for a possible hands ball incident but the referee in charge waved to play on.
Another useful period came to an end for the Under-19 team, who prepare for the UEFA Under-19 Championship final tournament in July. Next appointment is in mid-May with another two friendlies, against an opponent still to be determined.
Malta Karl Sargent, Deacon Abela, Jake Micallef, Sven Xerri, Mattias Ellul (Jake Grech 82), Alex Spiteri (Bjorn Buhagiar 69), Lucas Scicluna, Daniel Letherby (Kaiden Fenech 69), Andrew Borg, Brooklyn Borg (Zak Barbara 82), Sean Gatt (Nathan Cross 63).
Lithuania Jurgen Miksiumas, Matas Latvys, Orlandas Jakas, Azuolas Indrilius, Nojus Audinis, Nedas Klimavicius (Simas Civilka 63), Kristoferis Banevicius (Martynas Setkus 46), Ignas Paulikas, Adrian Lickunas, Ernestas Gudelevicius (Nidas Vosylius 55), Justas Pastukas (Nojus Grudis 46).
Referee: Nikola Dordevic