Sliema strike late to earn hard-fought vic­tory

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

A late win­ner by Marko Potez­ica gave Sliema Wan­der­ers some respite as they re­cov­ered from a goal down to beat Tarx­ien Rain­bows with two sec­ond half goals.

Tarx­ien went ahead on the quar­ter hour through Baker and main­tained their lead for a whole hour only to con­cede goals from Salomon and Potez­ica af­ter twice hit­ting the wood­work.

Tarx­ien went into this fix­ture on a two-match win­ning streak and were boosted by the re­turn of Ser­gio Pren­des from sus­pen­sion.

Mean­while, fol­low­ing their ab­ject per­for­mance and de­feat against St An­drews in mid­week, Sliema coach John But­tigieg deemed it fit to drop three play­ers namely Beppe Mus­cat, Ai­den Frig­gieri and Mi­los Galin and re­placed them with Gabriel Aquilina, Peter Xuereb and Jean Paul Far­ru­gia.

Sliema looked to have set­tled early into the game and looked as­sured in pos­ses­sion but Tarx­ien’s breaks on the counter were al­ways an em­bar­rass­ment for the Wan­der­ers.

Within the first quar­ter hour the Rain­bows had won three cor­ners.

The first, taken by Ponce, was headed nar­rowly over by Baker.

The sec­ond proved un­pro­duc­tive but the third, on the quar­ter hour, brought about Tarx­ien’s lead.

Caru­ana took the kick from the left, Aquilina tried to clear the ball which reached Ebi­abowei Baker who beat keeper Zam­mit with a header at the far post.

For all their pos­ses­sion, Sliema failed to trou­ble An­drea Cas­sar, back in the Tarx­ien goal yes­ter­day as most of their at­tacks were sti­fled on the edge of the Tarx­ien area.

On a deep Muir cross, Muchardi headed well over.

Tarx­ien carved out two other good op­por­tu­ni­ties be­fore the half hour.

Ponce ran in to con­nect to an Alves cross from the right but keeper Zam­mit blcoked into an­other cor­ner.

On a Ponce cross, Nils­son’s header went off tar­get.

Sliema’s de­fend­ing again looked tame on 40 min­utes when keeper Zam­mit lost the ball to Ponce as he tried to kick it up­field.

It rolled to­wards Nils­son, whose ef­fort was blocked by Zam­mit as he scram­bled back in goal.

Sliema went clos­est one minute be­fore the break when a Muchardi di­rect free kick thumped against the bar.

Sliema tried to push for­ward af­ter the restart, prob­ing for an equaliser. They even won sev­eral cor­ners. But Tarx­ien threat­ened on 50 min­utes as Alves’ cross from the right was met by Ponce at the far side with his ef­fort clip­ping the far post.

Sliema were re­warded with an equaliser past the hour.

Mus­cat played a through ball for Wisdom Salomon to run in between two op­po­nents and beat keeper Cas­sar.

Three min­utes later, theTarx­ien shot stop­per did well to put a hand to Far­ru­gia’s shot that hit the up­right and re­bounded into play.

Tarx­ien coach Jacques Scerri sent in Clau­dio Frances for Marcelina. At that junc­ture it was still any­body’s game.

Muir tested keeper Cas­sar with a long drive and on 81 min­utes Tarx­ien again were de­nied by the wood­work as Nils­son ad­vanced from the left but his shot re­bounded against the post.On the other end, Muchardi, put through by Far­ru­gia, saw keeper Cas­sar rush off his line to block.

But just as the game looked to be head­ing for a stale­mate, Sliema came up with their mo­ment of magic.

Five min­utes from the end, sub­sti­tute Spiteri’s cor­ner from the left was de­flected at the far end for the un­marked Marko Potez­ica to shoot in from close range and break Tarx­ien’s hearts.

Alex Nils­son of Tarx­ien Rain­bows (right) goes past Alex Mus­cat of Sliema Wan­der­ers (left) Photo: Domenic Aquilina

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