Young Stars and Hotsticks reach final
Floriana Young Stars 1 Qormi Poiatti 0 Umpires: Ray Micallef, Reno Cremona
The game started at a very fast pace with both midfields neutralising each other. It was Qormi who were dangerous in the first five minutes, forcing keeper James Mizzi into a triple save. However, it was the Floriana team who had the first couple of short corners which were ably cleared by the Qormi defence.
After 15 mins, the initial frenzied tempo subsided allowing both teams to take a more cautious approach. But with Qormi gaining some territorial advantage, Floriana’s captain Mark Camilleri, managed to ease past Juan Sarcia to set up a mouth watering chance but hit the side netting.
Play was then held up in midfield until the final minute of the first half when Floriana were awarded a short corner but again, no clear chance was created.
The second half started on a quiet note. Qormi had to make Mizzi work hard again from a well worked short corner but at the other end Luke Borg Costanzi made Qormi keeper Mifsud save brilliantly in reply.
However, from the subsequent action, Young Stars gained another penalty corner. It was the 17th minute and after the initial shot was parried, Nanko Cornellissen converted from the rebound. Qormi reacted but could not create any real danger with the Young Stars defence holding out to keep a clear sheet and gain a place in next Sunday’s Challenge Cup Final.
Rabat Depiro 1 Lightshop Hotsticks 4
Umpires: Glen Bonello, Paul Brincat
Rabat and Hotsticks had already met once in the group stage and therefore knew what to expect. There was no reason to believe that Hotsticks would not dominate proceedings again especially since Rabat had their key player Kevin Micallef missing in their line up.
However, it was Rabat who had the first short corner but could not get a shot on target.
Two minutes later Hotsticks went ahead when after some nifty passes, Steve Portelli prodded the ball home.
In the 14th minute, Hotsticks won their 2nd penalty corner which was easily saved by Rabat goalkeeper Elton Farrugia. Farrugia could not repeat this feat in the 18th minute when Sliema Hotsticks youngster Alessandro Amore, tapped the ball in at the far post, giving Sliema a 2 goal cushion.
Rabat could not muster a reaction and The Lightshop Hotsticks got another corner which clipped the post. However, Rabat built a counter attack which resulted in a goal when Charlot Antonelli trapped the ball and slotted home after creating space in a restricted area.
This goal gave Rabat a bit of hope for an equaliser but in their frantic effort, the game deteriorated into a scrappy affair.
It was not until midway through the second half that Hotsticks regained their 2 goal cushion when Steve Portelli got his second goal from a short corner set piece. From then on, Hotsticks controlled the match and even managed to find a fourth through Ryan Dalli.
The Lightshop Hotsticks now meet Floriana Young Stars next Sunday in the Challenge Cup Final at 11am at the National Hockey Centre at Corradino.
Julian Zahra of Sliema Hotsticks (in white) shields the ball from the challenge of Brian Tanti of Rabat Depiro (back) - Photo Domenic Aquilina