Three goals scored late in the last session provided the salvo Sliema needed to beat Neptunes and wipe away the memory of their 9-3 defeat at the hands of San Giljan a week ago.
In so doing the Blues also kept alive their hopes of putting up a challenge for the winter title when the teams enter the play-offs stage.
The scoring catalysts for Bogdan Rath’s side were goal-grabber Edward Aquilina and the useful left-handed centre Zach Mizzi who netted seven of the team’s eight goals between them.
Sliema could rely on a more-balanced squad which had no fewer than 11 established units. As a consequence there was a much brisker rotation through substitutions, a factor that helped the Blues conserve more energy.
However, Neptunes did not buckle and were still very much in it as the teams shared ten goals until a little over three minutes to go.
The Reds’ undoing was their thinner bench that never allowed them to go beyond putting eight men in the water.
In a somewhat physical duel, which had a posse of turnovers mostly resulting from attackers’ fouls, there were 17 expulsions, four of which were double.
Each team managed to score once, with the Blues having nine numerical advantages to their opponents’ four.
The Reds also missed an early penalty. Sliema twice led by three goals but their opponents pegged them back to make it a tight contest until those latter stages of the final quarter.
Aquilina stood out with his accurate shooting which helped him to his four-goal bonanza while Mizzi was clinical in the centre.
Niki Lanzon scored twice for Neptunes with the other goals coming from Sean Gravina, Jeremy Abela and Jordan Camilleri.
(1-0, 1-1, 3-3, 3-1)
Sliema: R. Coleiro, J. Gabarretta, E. Aquilina 4, C. Cluett, M. Meli, K. Dowling, M. Spiteri Staines 1, B. Cachia, L. Galea, A. Attard, Z. Mizzi 3, N. Bugelli, Z. Sciberras.
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon 2, K. Erdogan, J. Culic, T. Agius, M. Tabone, S. Gravina 1, J. Camilleri 1, J. Abela 1, M. Zammit, M. Martellacci, M. Azzopardi, I. Bugeja.
Referees: M. Angileri, S. Licari.
Malta U-17 4
(2-4, 0-2, 0-2, 2-1)
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