The Malta Independent 22 November 2019, Friday

Waterpolo, Div I Playoffs: Birżebbuġa recover from two setbacks to force the decisive game

Stewart Said Thursday, 29 August 2019, 21:09 Last update: about 4 months ago
Photo: Domenic Aquilina
Photo: Domenic Aquilina

MARSASKALA FISH AND FISH...... 11

BIRŻEBBUĠA FREEPORT.............. 15

(2-2), (4-3), (1-5), (4-5)

At one point during the second session, Marsaskala looked to be on their way to book a place in the final against Valletta, but a brilliant reaction by Birżebbuġa in the second part of the game, permitted them to stay with a chance of progressing to the play-off final. Birżebbuġa lost twice to Marsaskala in a space of three days, first in the knock-out final and last Tuesday in the first play-off.

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Birżebbuġa had to react twice in the first session after Marsaskala had taken the lead from their foreigners Kristijan Milakovic and Kostantin Averka. They equalised on both occasions late in the session from Antun Goreta and Neil Cassar.

Marsaskala started the second session on a positive note as they regained the lead from Jean Claude Cutajar and built a three-goal cushion which at that time seemed to be paving the way for the win.

But Birżebbuġa were determined to stay in the game and recovered their disadvantage from Cassar, Vassallo and a penalty by Petkovic. That was only until a splendid backhand from distance by Averka kept Marsaskala with their noses in front.

Birżebbuġa went in front for the first time in the third session, an advantage that they kept till the final whistle. They scored four consecutive goals to take a 9-6 lead while their goalkeeper Daniel Spiteri guessed the right way to save a penalty by Averka.

Pierre Borg's team started the last session 10-7 ahead but that advantage was cut to only a goal after a brace by Averka. Petkovic made it 11-19 but Jean Claude Cutajar responded less than a minute later. Two quick goals by Antun Goreta and David Pace Lupi with about three minutes left, gave the much needed three-goal cushion to Birżebbuġa who could control the final minutes.

Marsaskala: J. Micallef, J.C. Cutajar (3), A. Camenzuli, M. Manara, M. Aquilina, L. Grixti, K. Navarro, K. Milakovic (1), K. Averka (6), J. Culic, R. Attard, D. Borg Millo, M. Borg, L. Felice (1), J. Ciantar

Birżebbuġa: D. Spiteri, M. Borg, N. Cassar (2), D. Pace Lupi (2), R. Spiteri, A. Petkovic (5), S. Vassallo (1), D. Cutajar (2), J. Bajada, M. Cutajar, A. Goreta (3), M. Ortoleva, A. Bugeja, C. Farrugia, J. Cremona

Referees: Massimo Angileri, Filippo Gomez

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