FA Trophy: Valletta 4 Sirens 1
Valletta needed two goals inside the first 30 minutes of the match to overcome the challenge of
Sirens and reach the quarterfinals of the FA Trophy.
It was a slick performance from the Malta champions who took the game by the scruff off its neck and
once they opened a commanding two-goal advantage in the first part of the match they used all their
experience to administer their lead, giving little chance to the St Paul’s Bay side to get back into the match.
Bojan Kaljevic was the prime performer for the Citizens as the Montenegrin forward scored a brace before setting up the other goal to further rubberstamp his importance to the City’s cause among continuous talk that he could leave the Citizens.
Sirens, on their hand, have only themselves to blame as they missed some open chances in key moments
of the match and inevitably they were made to pay for it.
Valletta coach Darren Abdilla included young midfielders Nicholas Pulis and Shaun Dimech in his starting formation while Italian striker Mario Fontanella was given a rest and was not included in the 18-man squad.
Sirens, on their part, named their strongest formation as they looked to maintain their dream run in the competition.
Flavio Cheveresan should have given Sirens a perfect start when he was picked in space inside the
area by Ricardo Faria but he completely mistimed his shot.
Sirens paid dearly for this miss and on seven minutes Valletta took the lead. They were awarded a corner kick from which Miguel Alba picked Bojan Kaljevic and the Montenegrin powered his header home.
The goal lifted Valletta’s spirits and they almost doubled their lead on 15 minutes when Enmy
Pena Beltre picked Matteo Piciollo but the Italian was denied by a fine save from David Cassar.
Sirens looked rattled and Valletta doubled their lead on 27 minutes. Kaljevic this time turned provider as he picked Piciollo inside the area and his shot on the turn flew past Cassar.
The St Paul’s Bay side finally threatened eight minutes from time Ricardo Faria hit a thumping drive from the edge of the area that was pushed away by Yenz Cini.
Sirens thought they have pulled a goal back on the stroke of halftime when Romarinho beat Cini with a thumping drive, but the ‘goal’ was annulled for offside.
On the restart, Sirens seemed to step up their game in search of an early goal that would have
reopened the tie.
But it was Valletta who should have killed off the tie on 47 minutes when Piciollo met Alba’s
cross but he fired wide.
Sirens had an inviting opportunity to pull a goal back on 66 minutes when they were awarded a
indirect free-kick from inside the area but Romao’s belter flew over.
However, any hopes of a Sirens comeback were all but ended by Kaljevic on 79 minutes as the Montenegrin let fly a scorching drive that flew into the roof of the net.
Sirens did pull a goal back on 89 minutes when Valletta goalkeeper Cini failed to hold to the ball following Ryan Grech’s delivery and Raphael was on hand to fire home.
However, it was Valletta who had the final say with substitute Jhony Moises Barrios marking his debut when he rifled home from close in.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA Y. Cini, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, B. Kaljevic, M. Piciollo (82 J. Barrios), S. Dimech, J. Borg, E. Pena Beltre, N. Pulis (84 S. Malano), M. Alba (70 K. Tulimieri), T. Caruana.
SIRENS: D. Cassar, R. Grech, Raphael, E. Okoye, R. Faria (69 L. Sciberras), A. Adeshina, E. Herrera (57 A. Borg), R. Romao, Romarinho, T. Espindola, F. Cheveresan.
Scorers: Kaljevic 7, 79, Piciollo 27, Moises Barrios 90 (V), 88′ Raphael
Referee: Emanuel Grech.
Yellow cards: Kaljevic, Raphael, Camilleri, Pena Beltre, Grech, Borg, Okoye.