A dramatic finale in the big match of the day left joint leaders Sliema Betsson and Neptunes Grimaldi on an even keel after the contest ended on eight goals apiece.
Yesterday, there was a dramatic ending to the proceedings.
Sliema were about to restart play with less than a minute left after the Reds had what seemed to be a goal and a 9-8 lead on an extra-man netted by Steve Camilleri.
At that moment the referees’ attention was drawn by the table officials to the fact that the Neptunes’ bench had anticipated the ‘goal’ by requesting a time-out.
After prolonged consultations Neptunes failed to exploit their numerical edge and that left Sliema hanging on to an 8-8 draw.
It had been a typically fascinating duel with Neptunes showing the better teamwork almost throughout except for the last stages when the Blues fought back to neutralise a three-goal deficit.
The Balluta Bay Reds’ superior tactical sense, when using more attacking width and shifting the ball more effectively, had their opponents in difficulty.
Sliema, who converted one on six extra-man situations (Neptunes made it two on seven) drifted behind on 6-3 and 7-4 before they managed to save the day courtesy of three goals from Marco Cuk and two from Edward Aquilina.
Neptunes made better use of their limited resources which extended to just eight units while the Blues had the luxury of 11 playable components.
The Reds’ main scorer this time was the much-improved Timmy Agius with three goals.
After their defeat at the hands of Valletta, Sirens Ritter Sport bounced back to victory when they saw off Exiles Jet Freight 14-7 in the opening match of the evening.
It was no less than the northerners deserved as they were definitely the better and more balanced side, not least for the fact that they had eight scorers in their ranks to the losers’ four. Their younger players were also in the picture in this respect.
The issue swayed in Sirens’ favour after the change of ends which had them netting nine times against three conceded after they led 5-4 midway through.
Their top goal-getter was the Spaniard Sergi Mora who grabbed four goals, followed by Marc Grech on three.
For Exiles, Milos Vukicevic also netted a hat-trick.
(1-2, 3-3, 2-5, 1-4)
Exiles: I. Bugeja, J. Rizzo Naudi, S. Vassallo, D. Pace Lupi, D. Borg Millo, E. Gravina, S. Gravina 1, K. Griscti, N. Paris, A. Bianchi 1, G. Ciappara, M. Vukicevic 3, K. Lanzon 2.
Sirens: N. Grixti, Z. Mizzi 2, S. Mora 4, G. Pace 1, M. Grech 3, I. Riolo, M. Balucci 1, D. Cutajar 1, J. Napier 1, J. Sciberras, L. Caruana 1, N. Farrugia, M. Muscat.
Referees: M. Dalli, M. Luciani.
(1-2, 2-4, 3-1, 2-1)
Sliema: R. Coleiro, J. Gabarretta, E. Aquilina 2, C. Cluett, K. Dowling, J. Soler, M. Fenech, T. Sullivan 1, J. Brownrigg, A. Attard 1, M. Cuk 3, N. Bugelli 1, Z. Sciberras.
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon, C. Radu 2, M. Cutajar, T. Agius 3, M. Lanzon, S. Camilleri 1, J. Camilleri 1, J. Abela 1, M. Zammit, B. Lanzon, M. Azzopardi, M. Castillo.
Referees: A. Goncharenko, V. Frauenfelder.
Division One: 16.45 Marsascala vs Ta’ Xbiex; 18.00 Otters vs Marsaxlokk.
Premier: 19.15 Valletta vs San Ġiljan.
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