Saints leave Sliema feeling blue
This was an eye-catching and deserved win for St Andrews, their second of the season, over a disappointing Sliema Wanderers side
St Andrews were particularly impressive after the restart as they scored three goals, one from a penalty, that left Sliema reeling.
Sliema Wanderers failed to improve upon their win against Birkirkara three days before. Yesterday they looked like a bunch of disjointed men, dismal in their defending and devoid of ideas up front. Bar the first 25 minutes, John Buttigieg’s side was never in it.
Both sides were keen to force the pace and although the first 45 minutes lacked any quality football there were openings and scoring opportunities at both ends.
Sliema’s first and best chance came after 11 minutes. On a Scerri cross, Galin’s goalbound header was well saved by the Saints keeper Jake Galea.
The Saints were trying to beat Sliema’s offside trap. Ryan Darmanin, who was handed a start ahead of Dale Camilleri, was through but keeper Glen Zammit, in place of the injured Giuseppe Sarao, rushed off his line to smother the danger.
Sliema’s best patch came midway through the half. Muir shot went slightly over the bar. Scerri tested keeper Galea with a fierce shot that was turned into a corner.
St Andrews settled into the contest past the half hour. Paz ran from mid pitch and sent a low inviting cross. Darmanin arrived fractionally late.
Then Udoh went past Sliema defender Beppe Muscat inside the area but was blocked at the point of shooting.
But the Saints should have gone in front four minutes before the break. Paz sent a perfect cross as Darmanin was allowed a free header but he incredibly missed the target.
Darmanin though atoned for that miss five minutes into the second half, heading St Andrews in the lead from a Paz corner from the right.
The goal made the Saints defend with some renewed energy. Sliema’s prospects of an equaliser always seemed remote with Galin too isolated up front. They were extinguished towards the hour when the Saints won a penalty after Salomon felled Brandle inside the area and Joseph Farrugia doubled their lead from the spot kick.
Brandle and Paz turned on the style as they tormented the Sliema rearguard with their runs and dribbles. No wonder on 68 minutes Enmy Beltre started and finished the move that made the scoreline 3-0. And what an execution. Collecting the ball inside his own half, St Andrews’ number 2 ran past three opponents and then rolled the ball beyond the reach of onrushing keeper Zammit.
With the game virtually over, St Andrews continued to toy with their opponents, who reamained only bystanders. Even after the introduction of Jean Paul Farrugia, Ryan Spiteri and Peter Xuereb, their energy went suffocated until the contest had all but been surrendered.
The penalty action that led to the Saints’ second goal on the hour - Photo:Michael Camilleri