Day 3 Valletta 0 Naxxar L 0
Valletta experienced a miserable night at the National Stadium as they could not go beyond a goalless
draw against a revitalised Naxxar Lions side yesterday.
In the pre-match build-up few had given the Lions any hope of offering a stern challenge to their more-quoted opponents especially when one considers their lame showings in their opening two outings which saw them suffer backto- back defeats to Balzan (2-0) and Sliema Wanderers (5-1).
But Naxxar looked a completely transformed side as new coach Stuart Watkiss, who replaced Dennis Fenech last week, masterminded a tactical masterclass as the Lions produced a gritty defensive performance that left the Citizens frustrated.
The English coach handed a start to Austrian goalkeeper Christoph Nicht who started ahead of Omar
Borg. Senegalese defender Ndoye Ousseynou, English midfielder Scott Fenwick and forward Daniel
Bustos, of Argentina also made their first appearance for the Lions.
Valletta will feel hard-done to have dropped two precious points from a match which they dominated for long stretches and saw them create countless scoring chances.
However, the Valletta forwards had a night to forget as Naxxar held on to clinch their first point in the
top flight this season.
Matteo Piciollo made his first appearance for Valletta since his close-season move and formed a three-pronged attack alongside Nikola Asceric and Michael Mifsud with Santiago Malano operating just behind.
Italian midfielder Claudio Pani was back in the fray after missing the 1-0 win over Senglea due to suspension.
Valletta made a fast start and after two minutes Pani picked Nikola Asceric inside the area and the Serbian striker headed straight into the hands of Nicht.
The Citizens had an even better chance a minute later when in a quick break, Piciollo put Mifsud clear but the Malta striker fired wide with only the Naxxar goalkeeper to beat.
The Lions tried to settle down and on seven minutes Duane Bonnici showed his pace to break into the Valletta defence but his low drive was blocked in two attempts by Henry Bonello.
On 31 minutes, Bustos’s inswinger picked Manolito Micallef who headed just wide.
Valletta threatened again a minute from the break. Mifsud showed his pace to break through from the right before picking up Piciollo who was denied by a fine block by the onrushing Nicht.
Naxxar almost struck the first blow two minutes into the second half when Fenwick muscled his way past two City defenders but was anticipated by the onrushing Bonello.
Source – Times of Malta
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, R. Camilleri, J. Cruz Gill, S. Malano, M. Mifsud (J. Borg), M. Piciollo, U. Calistus, J. Zerafa, R. Saleh, C. Pani, N. Asceric (K. Nwoko).
NAXXAR L. – C. Nicht, R. Grech, M. Micallef, D. Bonnici, G. Cassar, G. Nagaoka (D. Falzon), A. Buhagiar, M. Fenech, M. Bustos (J. Debono), N. Ousseynou,.
Yellow Cards: J. Zerafa, R. Saleh (V), S. Fenwick, A. Buhagiar, N. Ousseynou (N)
Referee: E. Grech