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Sliema regain the top spot


The Sunday Times, 29 July 2012


Sliema McDonald’s regained top spot in the Premier Division standings after narrowly beating Sirens Ritter Sport 7-5 yesterday in a match marked by stringent press and very often strong-arm tactics.


The Blues had a better take-off and at one point in the third session led 6-2 and were looking comfortable.


That, though, did not prevent Sirens from staging a bold comeback to render the match uncertain till the very last second.


Finally, Sliema prevailed courtesy of their early edge.


In a first session in which both teams went for uncompromising marking, Sliema took a 2-0 advantage through goals from Ferenc Salamon and John Soler. Sirens were off the mark in their shooting and when they were on target Istvan Gergelj was behind the northerners’ efforts.


Sliema’s Hungarian goalkeeper even saved a penalty on his compatriot Czaba Kiss early in the second session.


From a possible 2-1, Sliema made it 3-0. Arpad Babay scored between Jerome Gabarretta and Nikolai Lubrano’s goals as the match press tactics grew even more stringent.


Sirens made it 4-2 but Mark Meli netted a fifth goal with less than a second left for the end of the second session.


Meanwhile, Salamon, who had been hanging on two personal faults, re-appeared in the third quarter. He soon made it 6-2 but the gritty Alex Attard reduced the arrears to 6-3.


Sliema at this point could afford to be wasteful on man-ups but not Sirens who had to make up the three-goal leeway with the last quarter left.


Seconds into the fourth session, Salamon was expelled for good following his third personal fault.


With David Cutajar and Charlie Zammit making it 6-5 with under four minutes left, the match drew to an exciting climax as the northerners threatened to draw level.


However, Sliema held out during the remaining time only to seal victory with a last-gasp Soler goal, his second.


Sirens 5
Sliema 7
(0-2, 2-3, 1-1, 2-1)

Sirens: A. Grech, A. Attard 1, L. Caruana, P. Micallef, A. Babay 2, C. Kiss, J. Borg, D. Cutajar 1, A. Zarb Cousin, C. Zammit 1, C. Spiteri de Barro, D. Zammit, A. Sammut.

Sliema: I. Gergelj, J. Gabarretta 1, N. Lubrano 1, P. Privitera, M. Meli 1, J. Soler 2, D. Paolella, J. Brownrigg, C. Debono, F. Salamon 2, M. Rizzo, M. Spiteri Staines, R. Coleiro.

Refs: I. Sciriha, P. Bensaia.

Next fixtures
Tuesday: Division One 18.00 Valletta Sterling vs Ta’ Xbiex Amigos. Premier Division 19.15 Sirens Ritter Sport vs San Giljan Giuseppe’s.

Wednesday: Premier Division 19.15 Exiles Ferretti vs Sliema McDonald’s.


Premier Division

  P W D L F A Pts
Sliema                       4   3   0   1   47   42   12       
Neptunes 4 2 0 2 53 41 11
San Giljan 4 2 1 1 50 47 9
Sirens 4 1 1 2 39 47 5
Exiles 4 0 2 2 40 53 2