The first match in the challenge cup was won by White Hart who got the better of Rabat in an interesting encounter. The game might have taken a different turn had Ramon Chircop not saved brilliantly in the 7th minute off a Rabat penalty corner action. The game ebbed and flowed from end to end without any goal scoring chances but on 32 minutes Glen Bonello shot White Hart into the lead which they held until the whistle blew for half time.
Three minutes into the second half White Hart forged further ahead when Shawn Mifsud shot them into a 2 – 0 lead off a Charlo Sammut assist. Rabat reacted but did not avail themselves of a penalty corner action around the 50 minute mark. A minute later Sammut shot low into the corner of the net as a result of a penalty corner action to send White Hart into a 3-0 lead. To their credit, on 66 minutes, Rabat did geta consolation goal through through a Shawn Falzon beauty, the game ending with White Hart emerging victors.
Starting Line-up: Ramon Chircop, Jamie Sciberras, Daniel Micallef, David Agius, Rebecca Mifsud, Luke Brincat, Michael Bugeja, Charlo Sammut (1), Glen Bonello (1), Andrew Monaghan and Carl Tua.
Substitutes: Robert Vassallo Agius, Peter Flynn, Shawn Mifsud (1), Dieter Grunewald, Mark Zahra.
Last Thursday White Hart played their first friendly of the season against Qormi. With the players still in pre season mode and fully focused on improving their fitness the Reds showed great character with each player having to play the whole game.
The Reds started the game well and were holding their own against last season’s runners-up. The game was mostly played in White Hart’s half however the Reds left few gaps at the back and there was very little goal mouth action.
The first attack created by the Reds produced the first goal of the game. A short corner was awarded and from the resulting set piece Charlo Sammut fired home. From that point on Qormi applied more pressure to force an equaliser creating a couple of attempts which failed to yield the desired results.
At the change of ends with legs getting tired on both sides the Reds’ defence was pressured inside its 25 yards. Qormi were winning a number of short corners but every opportunity went begging. In the final minutes of the game Qormi pulled the goalie and were playing with 11 outfield players. During this period, in the last short corner of the game, Qormi managed to equalise through a flick by DeGiovanni.
The remaining seconds of the game were end to end with both teams going for a winner. The game finished 1-1 with the Reds disappointed to have conceded so late but very pleased with the overall performance. Pre season training is in its final 2 weeks after which the Challenge Cup takes centre stage.
Squad: R. Chircop, D. Micallef, J. Sciberras, G. Bonello, D. Agius, A. Moneghan, C. Sammut, L. Brincat, P. Torpiano, C. Tua and Y. Dingli.
Early Young Stars’ pressure did not produce dividends and on 13 minutes White Hart were awarded a penalty stroke which Luke Brincat buried stroking a low shot into the corner of the net from the spot. Both teams increased their efforts but it was White Hart who went further ahead when David Agius met a Glen Bonello cross close to the by- line and flicked home from a very narrow angle. Young Stars reacted and after not taking advantage of five penalty corner awards they pulled one back when Jamie Mifsud scored seconds before the half time whistle blew.
The second half proved to be interesting as gaps started opening with both teams creating chances as the game flowed from end to end . Both defences stood firm and tempers frayed as the clock ran down and the two sides were reduced to ten men. Although Young Stars increased their resolve and pressed hard for an equalizer, White Hart stood firm and ran out 2 -1 winners to give them their second victory this season.
Qormi took the lead in the 7th minute when after White Hart’s custodian Ramon Chircop affected a tremendous point blank save, Gareth Dimech was on hand to hook the rebound from above head height into the net. On 16 minute Keith Bajada shot Qormi into a 2 – 0 lead and 21 minutes they were awarded a penalty stroke – Juan Sarcia making no mistake to shoot his team into a 3 – 0 lead which they held comfortably until half time.
On 44 minutes Qormi went further ahead when Sarcia grabbed his second and Qormi’s fourth as a result of a penalty corner action. White Hart, showing improvement on their first half performance hit back when on 56 minutes Paul Torpiano pushed home from close range to reduce the arrears to 4 – 1 . On 62 minutes White Hart grabbed their second goal when Alvaro Company Garcia entered the top of the D from the left flank and belted a reverse hit low into the corner of the net. Just before the final whistle blew Qormi were awarded a penalty corner and Sarcia notched hit hat trick and Qormi’s fifth goal enabling his team to retain their second placing in the league table.
The bottom two teams of the league paired up to try and get some more points on the table. Rabat had unfortunately a rather depleted side and were on the ropes from the start. They were the first team to get a penalty corner however but White Hart were up to the challenge and thwarted Rabat’s effort. Laferla WH pressed on and got their reward on the 5th minute when from a penalty corner Alvaro Garcia tapped in from 3 metres after Kenneth Debatista failed to clear Sammut’s effort. The game ebbed and flowed with White Hart keeping their terrotorial advantage without really troubling the Rabat defence but Rabat did not create any problems for Laferla White Hart.
The 2nd half had much of the same. Laferla were rather wasteful in midfield, giving the ball away too easily and gave Rabat an opportunity form their counterattacks. However, Vassallo Agius in goal was up to it and saved a couple of times from Kevin Micallef and Charlot Antonelli. For the first time this season, White Hart managed to keep a clean sheet and got the win they needed, when Glen Bonello finished off a slick move on the left with two minutes to go to finish 2-0 up.
Young Stars started this match in a determined fashion attacking down the flanks putting White Hart’s defence under pressure, but it was not until the 15th minute that Jamie Mifsud shot Young Stars into a 1-0 lead. On 20 minutes Elton Cutajar doubled Young Stars lead with a shot low into the corner of the net – a lead they held comfortably until half time.
On the change of ends Young Stars continued to dominate the tempo of the game with their sallies from midfield and on 45 minutes Mark Camilleri netted to send his team 3 – 0 up. On 50 minute Luke Borg Costanzi entered the D from the left flank and buried a shot deep into the far corner of the net registering Young Stars’ fourth goal leaving them comfortable winners as the final whistle blew and consolidating their third position in the league table.
Steve Portelli shot Hotsticks ahead on four minutes with a well placed shot as a result of a penalty corner action. On eleven minutes, Julian Zahra sent Hotsticks into a 2 -0 lead and three minutes later, some lax defending allowed Christian Sammut to slot home Hotsticks’ third. White Hart reacted and on 18 minutes Charlo Sammut pulled one back but three minutes later Silas Plaehn netted to send hotsticks into a 4 – 1 lead which they held until the half time whistle blew.
The second half continued in the same vein with Hotsticks dominating proceedings and going further ahead when on 39 minutes Portelli grabbed his second and Hotsticks’ fifth. A minute later Ryan Dalli netted to further increase Hotsticks’ lead to 6 – 1. To their credit, White Hart never gave up and on 47 minutes Glen Bonello netted to narrow the gap to 6 – 2. On 55 minutes Sammut scored his second and White Hart’s third for the score to read 6 – 3. On 65 minutes Hotsticks were awarded a penalty stroke and Shaun Grima made no mistake from the spot to make the score 7 – 3. Two minutes later Sammut notched his hat trick grabbing White Hart’s fourth goal, the final whistle blowing seeing Hotsticks maintain their four point cushion at the top of the league table.
In the third minute Qormi were awarded a penalty corner and Juan Sarcia scored with a scorcher to send Qormi into a 1 – 0 lead. On 12 minutes Sarcia netted his and his side’s second. On 18 minutes Kyle Micallef entered the D from the left flank and let fly a beauty to send his team 3-0 up. Qormi were dominating the game at their own pace and further increased their lead when on 22 minutes Sarcia grabbed his hat trick and Qormi’s fourth, the score remaining unchanged as the half time whistle blew.
White Hart seemed a more determined outfit in the second half and, after not availing themselves of a penalty corner opportunity on 39 minutes, they were awarded a penalty stroke a minute later and Luke Brincat reduced the arrears to 4 – 1. Qormi still controlled the match but were more relaxed in their approach and on 53 minutes John Williams snapped up a rebound off the White Hart gioalkeeper’s pads and netted Qormi’s fifth from close range. On 65 minutes Zachary Degiovanni gave his team a 6 – 1 lead keeping Qormi well in the hunt for the league title.
On four minutes Harry Hayes netted to send White Hart into a 1 – 0 lead. Rabat crept back into the game being rather wasteful by not taking advantage of four penalty corner awards between the 20th and 30th minutes of the half but just as it seemed that White Hart would hold on to their lead until the break, on 33 minutes Shawn Dimech equalized and just before the whistle sounded Kurt Darmanin shot Rabat into a 2-1 lead.
In the second half Rabat spent most of the early exchanges on the attack but did not take advantage of five penalty corner awards between the 44th and 50th minutes of the match. White Hart crept back into the game, giving their all and on 60 minutes Charlot Sammut scored to level the score at 2- 2. The final ten minutes were played with both teams frantically vying for victory but the final whistle blew with the score deadlocked at 2-2, White Hart winning their first point of the season.
Hotsticks dominated this game from start to finish but from the 4th minute onwards did not manage to take advantage of six penalty corner awards. To give White Hart their due, they defended solidly and the half time whistle blew with the score deadlocked at 0 – 0.
The second half developed into a different scenario altogether On 38 minutes Jonathan Borg pushed home from a penalty corner action . Christian Sammut netted on 45 minutes to send his team into a 2 – 0lead.
Borg scored his second and Hotsticks’ third on 51 minutes and three minutes later he notched his hat trick and his team’s fourth. It must be mentioned that he has hit a rich vein of form scoring freely during his team’s last two outings. On 68 minutes Steve Cachia added a fifth goal to the tally and just before the final whistle Julian Zahra scored giving Hotsticks a merited 6 – 0 victory.