Lightshop Hotsticks crowned winners of the Hockey Association Malta Challenge Cup
Floriana Young Stars Lightshop Hotsticks
Umpires: Raymond Reno Cremona
Matches between these two clubs are always hard fought and produced a variety of results.
This was the second encounter in the tournament and it was anticipated that the teams would use different tactics to outthink their opponents.
On 9 minutes Hotsticks were awarded their first penalty corner and Steve Portelli hit home to send his team 1-0 up. Both teams reverted to man-to-man marking in midfield using basketball tactics of ‘pressing’ to keep the opponent’s defences on their toes.
The action was congested in mid field with very few incursions into the third part of the opponent’s half, the half time whistle blowing with Hotsticks maintaining their 1-0 lead.
Young Stars started on the gallop in the opening minutes of the second half but did not capitalise on two penalty corner awards.
On 42 minutes Mark Camilleri, the national team captain and his team’s penalty king, drove home to equalise as a result of a penalty corner action.
Both teams missed further penalty corner opportunities with Young Stars not taking advantage of some inviting crosses from the flanks. On 55 minutes Portelli hit his second to send Hotsticks into 2 -1 lead. Young Stars stormed back and Camilleri grabbed his second on 59 minutes to level the score on 2-2.
It was now or never for both teams and defences opened up.
Within two minutes Hotsticks were awarded a penalty stroke which Shaun Grima converted to send his team 3-1 up.
Grima grabbed his second on 65 minutes to secure a 4-2 lead which his team administered until the final whistle, crowning Lightshop Hotsticks winners of the Hockey Association Malta Challenge Cup.
3rd and 4th place
Rabat Depiro Qormi Poiatti
In the early stages of the match, man marking was the order of the day with the usual pattern of Rabat’s well drilled defence being countered by Qormi’s possession tactics.
In fact both sides missed opportunities to go ahead mid way into the half.
On 24 minutes Rabat spurned a penalty corner opportunity while, on 30 minutes, Qormi did not take advantage of a penalty corner awarded to them, however they went into a 1-0 lead when Juan Sarcia hit home in the final minute of the half from another penalty corner action.
The second half turned out to be a different affair altogether, Qormi applying pressure using their right flank as a feeder to hit tantalising crosses across the face of the goalpost on at least four occasions. Rabat countered well with swift direct counter attacks and on 47 minutes they were denied by Qormi’s goalkeeper who effected a sprawling save to keep his goal intact.
Midway through the half gaps started opening as both teams placed more emphasis on attack leaving their defences more vulnerable. After Rabat had missed two scoring opportunities, on 54 minutes John Williams netted as a result of a pass from Keith Bajada to send Qormi into a 2-0 lead.
Qormi continued to attack down the flanks and on 68 minutes Kyle Micallef shot home to send his team 3-0 up.
Rabat grabbed their consolation goal when Kevin Micallef scored – the whistle blowing immediately after - leaving Qormi occupying the third place in the competition.