Victoria Hotspurs move closer to retain title with last gasp goal
GFA BOV Gozo Football League Division I
Gozo Stadium – 17 February 2019
Victoria H FC : 2 (H. De Souza Maciel 59’, F. Apap 90+5’)
Parnis, F. Apap, L. Grima, C. Mercieca, A. Mizzi, J. Bajada, S.P. Bajada, H. De Souza Maciel, D. Sowatey, E.A. Da Silva, E.P. Lattes.
Xewkija T FC : 1 (M. Camilleri 18’)
Grima, M. Tabone, S.A. Martinez Villa, D. Krstic, C. Antunes Pavidis, R. Buttigieg (C. Bugeja), G. Hili, J.M. Vella (J. Cefai), M. Camilleri, M. Xerri (P.P. Buttigieg), D. Bogdanovic.
Victoria Hotspurs obtained three points from a 2-1 dramatic win in the top of the table clash against Xewkija Tigers so that they retained their sole leadership with a six-point lead over the second place on the table and also practically eliminated the same Xewkija from the race for the title.
This match pulled particular interest from those following the Gozitan football as the two teams needed a win in their attempt to achieve the main honour at the end of the championship. The Hotspurs needed a win to remain the hot favourites for the title while Xewkija could have re-opened their chances to be among the serious challengers by repeating the victory over the Hotspurs that they obtained in the match of the first round between the two sides. With this defeat Xewkija are practically out of the contention for the tile as they are now ten points behind the same Hotspurs although each teams has to play nine more matches until the end of the BOV Gozo Football League Division I.
For this match the two sides expressed their ambitions from the early stages. During the first period the Hotspurs enjoyed territorial supremacy but were not effective in attack, while Xewkija seemed well deployed, managed to take the lead and for most of the time they also managed to control play with authority. However, the Hotspurs came out for the second period much more aggressive and took full command of play where they not only levelled the score but created various other scoring opportunities that were not converted mainly due to a series of important interventions by Xewkija’s keeper Mark Grima. The latter became the protagonist of the encounter as time passed by but the Hotspurs kept their pressure on Xewkija’s defence until the dying moments and their efforts were rewarded as they clinched the win with a goal scored by their skipper in the last action of the encounter that arrived on the fifth minute of stoppage time.
The first serious scoring opportunity of the encounter arrived on 6 minutes through a header by Victoria’s Ferdinando Apap following a corner kick by Emiliano Lattes that ended high and Xewkija replied on 11 minutes through a shot by Claudio Antunes following a short clearance form a corner action that ended away from Victoria’s goal. On 17 minutes Xewkija’s goalie Mark Grima was well placed to save a fine shot by Elton Da Silva and one minute later Xewkija opened the score when a cross by Gennaro Hili from the left flank arrived to Michael Camilleri who fired towards goal and the ball ended in the net despite the attempt by Ferdinando Apap to clear the ball off the fatal line. The Hotspurs had an immediate reaction and three minutes later Xewkija’s keeper was again in the right position to deny Elton Da Silva from scoring the equaliser. On 31 minutes the Hotspurs threatened Xewkija’s defence through a shot by Henrique Maciel that was neutralised by Xewkija’s keeper and the Tigers replied on 42 minutes through a shot from outside the area by Christian Bugeja that was saved by keeper Adrian Parnis. In the second minute of stoppage time before the break Xewkija could have doubled the score but a free kick by Daniel Bogdanovic was partially saved by goalie Adrian Parnis and form the rebound Michael Camilleri missed the opportunity to convert towards goal so that the defence cleared the danger.
The match became much more exciting after the break as the Hotspurs pushed more men in attack and Xewkija tried to take advantage of open spaces with counter breaks. Ion 47 minutes a header by Victoria’s Ferdinando Apap from a cross by Christian Mercieca ended high and on 53 minutes Xewkija’s Darko Krstic entered Victoria’s area but his low shot was well blocked by goalie Adrian Parnis. Four minutes later a fine volley by Christian Mercieca following a cross by Elton Da Silva was turned to a corner with difficulty by goalie Mark Grima. Victoria Hotspurs levelled the score on 59 minutes when Henrique Maciel followed a move by Elton Da Silva on the right flank and arrived in time to head the ball in goal from close distance. Xewkija were shocked and the Hotspurs increased their pressure on the defence.
On 61 minutes the referee cautioned Elton Da Silva for a foul on Martinez Villa and initially the referee showed the red card to the striker, but the decision was eventually corrected following protests and when it resulted that Da Silva was not shown a yellow card previously. The same Da Silva therefore remained on the field of play and two minutes later the Brazilian striker had a goal that was disallowed for an offside. On 64 minutes a strike form outside the area by Victoria’s Jonathan Bajada was saved to a corner with some difficulty by goalie Mark Grima. Goalie Grima continued to be called in action and he managed to keep his side in contention with some fine saves. On 65 minutes the keeper blocked an attempt by Elton Da Silva and from the resultant melee the same Grima blocked a low shot by Shaun Bajada so that finally Emiliano Lattes had his effort cleared away from the area by Xewkija’s defence. Xewkija had their best opportunity to regain the lead on 72 minutes when Claudio Antunes released Darko Krstic, the latter entered the area but his low shot was well saved by goalie Adrian Parnis. One minute later Xewkija’s Joseph Mario Vella had an attempt from a good position that missed the target and on 78 minutes Victoria’s Emiliano Lattes had a shot that was saved to a corner by goalie Mark Grima. On 80 minutes the Hotpsurs protested for a penalty alleging a foul by substitute Peter Buttigieg on Elton Da Silva and on 82 minutes Xewkija’s goalie made a difficult intervention to block a header by Henrique Maciel from a corner kick by Shaun Bajada. In the following action a shot by the same Bajada was neutralised by the keeper and on 87 minutes goalie Mark Grima once again was at the right place to stop another good attempt by Elton Da Silva. One minute later Xewkija’s central defender Martinez Villa headed away the ball to a corner to deny Ferdinando Apap from hitting towards goal and from the resultant corner kick by Shaun Bajada, a fine header by Ferdinando Apap was again blocked by the goalkeeper. The Hotspurs scored the goal that decided the issue in the fifth minute of stoppage time when a free kick by Shaun Bajada surprised Xewkija’s defence and Ferdinando Apap headed in goal from an unmarked position among the celebrations of the numerous supporters, the staff on the bench and the players.
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Victoria Hotspurs F.C.
Gozo Stadium | 18:00