UBet FA Trophy – Valletta 3 Melita 1
Lateef Elford-Alliyu stole the limelight yesterday.
Making his bow for Valletta, the English striker announced himself with a well-taken brace as the Citizens strolled into the fourth round of the FA Trophy after overcoming Division One side Melita 3-1.
Melita’s 2-1 win over Valletta was the highlight of their brief sojourn in the Premier League last season but a repeat of that shock was never on the cards as the Whites surged into a three-goal lead inside the opening half-hour.
A hiding loomed large for Melita but they gave a better account of themselves after pulling a goal back early in the second half.
With Valletta growing increasingly erratic, Melita had a go at their opponents but their efforts were not enough to reverse the damage inflicted in the first half.
Elford-Alliyu’s inclusion was one of four changes effected by Mark Miller from the 6-0 league thrashing of Mosta as goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo, Aziz Corr Nyang and Shaun Bajada were awarded starting roles.
With Denni out, Elford-Alliyu occupied the central striker’s role with Abdelkarim Nafti and Nyang on the wings and Ryan Fenech linking up play through the middle.
Melita coach Jacques Scerri fielded an attack-minded line-up with Jose Jairo Cueto Rodriguez supporting Markko Novi Kimmo and Julian Galea and Luke Micallef on the flanks.
Valletta took less than four minutes to open the scoring. Nafti arrowed an inviting cross that was headed in by Fenech who can’t stop scoring these days.
Nafti was wide with a diagonal effort from outside the area and the winger was close to adding to Valletta’s lead but his close-range attempt was cleared away by Ivan Tufegdzic.
The Citizens monopolised possession. They would have doubled their lead but for a fine save from promising goalkeeper Philip Schranz who clawed away Elford-Alliyu’s header from an Edmond Agius centre.
Elford-Alliyu illuminated the game with an excellent goal on 23 minutes. Running into the box to meet Roderick Briffa’s pass, the former West Bromwich striker fired a pulverising volley which gave Schranz no chance.
Valletta made it 3-0 five minutes later, Elford-Alliyu scoring with a grounder after trading passes with Nafti.
A goalfest was on the cards as Valletta’s pressure showed no signs of abating. Agius hit just wide after being teed up by Nafti’s backheel.
Melita managed to catch a glimpse of Bartolo’s goal as, in a counter-attack, Kimmo released Micallef who ran past Fenech but his shot was an anti-climax.
Melita narrowed the deficit four minutes into the second half.
Rodriguez’s corner was met by Tufegdzic whose header looked to have been deflected by Fenech as the ball soared past the wrong-footed Bartolo.
The goal gave Melita confidence as the Amateurs began to pass the ball better.
Their improvement was evident when substitute Luke Sammut directed a perfect pass to Micallef who turned past Jonathan Caruana but his progression was halted by Bajada’s body charge. The City left-back was booked for his foul.
Late in the game, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza was denied by the woodwork as his effort from inside the box shook the crossbar.
Melita appealed for a penalty after Kimmo’s free-kick came off the Valletta wall but referee Alan Mario Sant saw nothing wrong.
Source – Times of Malta
VALLETTA – M. Bartolo, R. Fenech (S. Borg), E. Agius, J. Caruana, A. Nafti (J.P. Mifsud Triganza, R. Briffa, S. Bajada, L. Dimech, R. Bakare, A. Corr Nyang (I. Zammit), L. Elford,
MELITA – P. Shranz, L. Bianco (L. Sammut), M. Sierra Camacho, I. Tufegdzic, M. Mamo (T. Terpougoff), G. Gribbon, M. Valenzia, J. Cueto Rodriguez, L. Micallef, M. Borg, M. Hovi Kimmo (K. Coleiro).
Date: 27.11.13 Time: 18:00 Venue: Victor Tedesco Stadium
Scorers: R. Fenech, L. Elford (V), G. Gribbon (M)
Referee: Alan Mario Sant