Għajnsielem’s Kenneth Mercieca (left) tries to pull clear of Xewkija’s Thiago Melo dos Santos during last weekend’s top-of-the-table clash at the Gozo Stadium. Photo: Joseph MerciecaGħajnsielem’s Kenneth Mercieca (left) tries to pull clear of Xewkija’s Thiago Melo dos Santos during last weekend’s top-of-the-table clash at the Gozo Stadium. Photo: Joseph Mercieca

Xewkija Tigers handed 10-man Għajnsielem a 3-0 defeat on the last day of the regular season to force a decider for the top honour in Gozitan football.

The title match is scheduled for May 8 at the Gozo Stadium.

The clash between the two major contenders in Division One this season attracted one of the largest crowds to the stadium in recent years.

A point would have been enough for the Blacks to become champions after 10 years but 2014-15 title winners Xewkija were not going to throw in the towel easily.

They achieved their objective to draw level on points with Għajnsielem who had led the standings for several weeks before faltering badly in the straight for home.

Għajnsielem, who had player-coach Shaun Bajada and striker Joseph Vella missing due to suspension, looked more composed at the start.

The Tigers opted for a more cautious approach despite having four strikers in their initial line-up, albeit Daniel Bogdanovic was deployed in front of the defensive line.

Xewkija had goalkeeper Steve Sultana to thank as his fine saves kept Għajnsielem at bay in the opening stages.

The turning point came on 16 minutes when the Blacks had Mark Muscat sent off for a second bookable offence. From the ensuing free-kick, taken by Chris Camilleri, Thiago Melo Dos Santos headed in from close distance.

Għajnsielem had efforts by Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza going wide as Xewkija continued to rely on quick counter-breaks. They had a Cedric Sciberras ‘goal’ disallowed for an offside on 42 minutes.

Għajnsielem had a good opportunity to level the score seconds from half-time but Mifsud Triganza’s grounder rolled just wide.

Xewkija scored two goals in quick succession after the break to kill off their opponents.

Dene Shields hit a brace on 53 and 60 minutes to seal Xewkija’s win to the sheer delight of their numerous fans in the stands.

In another match, third-placed Kerċem Ajax turned defeat into a 2-1 victory against Victoria Hotspurs to finish the season on 35 points.

The Hotspurs surprised their opponents with an early goal by John Paul Grima but the Ajax took command of play to obtain a deserved victory with goals from Shaun Attard (31) and Andrew Mizzi (89).

The final match-day of the championship saw SK Victoria Wanderers beat Oratory Youths 1-0 as the two sides finished the campaign on equal points.

Mark Buhagiar scored the only goal of the encounter on 74 minutes.

Division Two

Division Two champions Xagħra United and runners-up Nadur Youngsters shared the spoils in the last match of the championship.

Xagħra saw more of the ball in the first period to open the scoring through Oliver Farrugia.

Nadur staged a strong reaction after the break to level matters on 51 minutes thanks to a Christian Debono goal.

The Youngsters were reduced to 10 men three minutes later when Michael Zerafa was sent off for a second booking. Nadur could still have turned the result in their favour after winning a penalty but goalkeeper Daniel Galea stopped Saviour Attard’s spot-kick.

Top scorers
Division One: Bogdanovic (Xewkija) 15 goals; Dos Santos (Xewkija) 13; Antunes (Kerċem) 13.
Division Two: Said (Nadur) 19 goals; Camilleri (Sannat) 13; Bartolo (Xagħra) 11.