FA Trophy Valletta 3 Marsa 0
As expected, Valletta cruised into the fourth round of the FA Trophy following a comfortable 3-0 win over Division One strugglers Marsa. Despite the Citizens having a few regulars missing, including goalkeeper Henry Bonello, Ryan Camilleri, Joseph Zerafa and Bojan Kaljevic, they dominated play as Marsa had no other option but to defend for lengthy spells.
Minutes before referee Etienne Mangion signalled the start of the match, torrential rain swept across the Centenary Stadium.
The slippery surface did not help matters as Valletta tried to surge into an early lead and they nearly did it through Mario Fontanella but his effort was blocked by Marsa goalkeeper Argyris Roppas.
That was the closest Valletta came to breaking the stalement before Jean Borg paved the way for the FA Trophy holders’ victory. On 17 minutes, Miguel Alba served the defender who made no mistake from close range, beating Roppas with a header.
The goal lifted the match’s tempo as Valletta created three scoring opportunities in quick succession.
First, Alba’s wicked shot from a free-kick drew a breathtaking one-handed save from Roppas on 23 minutes.
Then, Marsa had a narrow escape when newcomer Zied Soussi cut in from the righthand side before arrowing a curling drive which skimmed the bar.
Few moments later, the Tunisian winger sent a dipping ball towards Matteo Picciolo who came just short of putting a headed touch to the ball.
A great blocking save from the reliable Roppas denied Raed Saleh who unleashed a fierce drive from some 25 metres out, just before half-time.
However, the Greek goalkeeper could only watch in frustration five minutes into the second half when livewire Mario Fontanella drifted inside the penalty area where the Italian striker stumbled as he was challenged by the sliding Aaron Agius.
Referee Etienne Mangion pointed to the spot before Alba sent Roppas the wrong way from the penalty.
Valletta were in total control and unlikely to let their two-goal advatage slip away.
There was more to come as six minutes later, Picciollo set off on a powerful run on the left flank, cut inside before mustering a stunning shot that nestled into the top corner.
Danilo Doncic’s lads could have added further gloss to their victory through the luckless Soussi whose shot hit the foot of the post.
Source – timesofmalta.com
VALLETTA – Y. Cini, S. Borg, M. Alba (N. Pulis), J. Caruana, Z. Soussi, S. Malano (K. Nwoko), M. Piciollo (R. Fenech), J. Borg, E. Pena Beltre, I. Saleh, M. Fontanella.
MARSA – A. Roppas, M. Busuttil, N. Mocyk, R. De Fex Marriaga (C. Cardona), M. Gauci, S. Darmanin (R. Gafa), A. Sreti Ali, P. Anizoba Chizoba (J. Theuma), A. Micallef, A. Agius, U Chiedozie.
Yellow Cards: M. Alba (V), P. Anizoba Chizoba (M).
Scorers: 17′ J. Borg, 52′ M. Alba, 59′ M. Piciollo.
Referee: E. Mangion