Swieqi United defeated Hibernians 2-1 in the Assikura Women’s Knock-out Competition which was played at the Centenary Stadium on Friday evening.
This was Swieqi’s third win against Hibernians in four encounters following their two victories in the league. The Paolites had claimed the spoils in the other championship matchup.
Swieqi United’s coach Judith Kuipers kept faith with the same players that started in the semi-final against Raiders Lija except for forward Tatiana Dabney who replaced Salamatu Abdulai, scorer in the final four.
The Owls were missing Malta FA Player of the Year Jade Flask, league’s top scorer with 19 goals, who is sidelined with a knee injury.
Hibernians, on their part, fielded the strongest formation including club’s top scorer Alexis Espitia who missed the quarter-final against Mġarr United but returned with a goal against San Ġwann in the following round.
Photos courtesy of Cece Photography
Swieqi’s Theuma produced the first chance of the game with a long-range effort which sailed over the bar as the Owls were looking to pile the pressure from the early stages of the game.
Moments later, Shona Zammit replied with a couple of shots but could not beat goalkeeper Raisa Costantino on both occasions.
Hibernians were looking to catch Swieqi on the break and they reached their goal on the 10th minute when captain Martina Borg switched play towards an unmarked Espitia but the former Swieqi player’s curling effort went inches wide.
The Owls drew first blood on the 22nd minute, when captain Theuma pounced on a Hibernians’ mistake to fire a brilliant volley that stunned Costantino between the sticks.
Theuma almost doubled the score with an identical shot just to be denied by the crossbar midway into first half.
The Malta player was successful in her quest for a second goal when she connected with a Rebecca Atinga cross and slotted it past Costantino.
At the break, Hibs coach Keith Gouder made one change with Sarah Urpani deployed instead of young player Cristina Hili.
Tatiana Dabney tried to threaten Costantino with a shot from tight angle but failed to hit the back of the net.
Gouder tried to spark his team into life with another change – young player Nyorah Celeste replacing Yolande Attard.
The game ebbed and flow with midfielder Jessica Dimech trying her luck from long distance in search of a third for Swieqi but Costantino was alert to avert the danger.
Hibernians thought they had pulled one back through Espitia but her effort from tight angle hit the outside of Konlan’s goal.
To add more woes to Hibernians was Kayleigh Chetcuti’s exit due to an injury, with Thea Difesa taking her place in the final part of the second half.
Alessia Caschetto tried to surprise Konlan with a volley from long distance but the Ghana goalkeeper managed to keep her at bay.
The Paolites managed to cut the deficit in stoppage time when Espitia headed home from point-blank range after Martina Borg’s effort struck the crossbar, but it was too late for Hibs to try and send the game to extra-time with Swieqi claiming the spoils.
At the end of the match, Malta FA’s Senior Vice President Ludovico Micallef and Andrew Grech Managing director of Assikura insurance Brokers PLC presented the trophy and medals to the winners and runners up.
SWIEQI UNITED – C. Konlan; J. Dimech, D. Theuma, M. Sciberras, E. Xuereb, S. Zammit, Rafanny, J. Schembri, T. Falzon, T. Dabney, R. Atinga.
HIBERNIANS – R. Costantino; C. Ellul, E. Zammit, A. Busuttil, K. Chetcuti (70 T. Difesa), M. Borg, Y. Attard (56 N. Celeste), C. Hili (46 S. Urpani), A. Caschetto, N. Sciberras, A. Espitia.
Referee Jo-Anna Vassallo