The Malta Independent 17 November 2019, Sunday

BOV Premier League: Birkirkara in crisis after another defeat, first win for Gudja

Henry Brincat Monday, 4 November 2019, 21:58 Last update: about 12 days ago
Photo: Domenic Aquilina
Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Birkirkara         2
Gudja                3

Birkirkara: A. Hogg, E. Pepe, M. Vella (K. Zammit 89), R. Briffa, F. Falcone, C. Attard, C. Prado, OM Carniello, M. Alba (M. Mifsud 59), R. Fenech, I. Ntow 


Gudja: J. Debono,  J. Bondin (AR Miranda 28, L. Cremona 36), Z. Cassar, M. Attard, A. Friggieri (J. Grioli 77), R. Winchester, G. Mensah, A. De Barros, MA Jimenez, H. Vella, JA Bolanos

Referee:  P. Farrugia

Asst. refs: R. Vella, T. Debono

4th official: S. Pace

Scorer: G. Mensah 28, 62, F. Falcone 41, 78, R. Winchester 71 pen.,

Yellow cards: C. Prado 30, E. Pepe 40, H. Vella 48, A. De Barros 50, I. Ntow 51, J. Debono 84,

Red card: E. Pepe 71

BOV Player of the match: Gabriel Mensah

TMI Top 3: 1. R. Winchester, 2. G. Mensah, 3. F. Falcone.

Attendance: 438

Birkirkara are passing through one of their worst moments in the last 25 years and following yet another defeat yesterday, this time against Gudja, they have entered into a serious crisis.

A brace from Gabriel Mensah and a penalty goal from Rundell Winchester saw them inching ahead of the Stripes for whom Federico Falcone scored the goals.

It was a great performance from Gudja who have now obtained their first Premier League win and have joined the same Birkirkara on 7 points.

But it was another disappointing display by the Stripes who will have to improve considerably to avoid trouble in future.

In the first half Birkirkara dominated for long stretches, but in the opening 30 minutes they rarely, if ever, were effective.

Despite their insistence in attack, it was Gudja who opened the scoring against the run of play.

But it took the Stripes only 13 minutes to get back on level terms although after that, they never threatened again till the interval whistle.

Gudja’s intentions were quite clear. They defended for most of the time and operated in counter-attacks, almost scored a second goal just before the interval. In fact, they went close to scoring on two occasions.

In the second half, Gudja were a different proposition. They were far more dangerous than the Stripes in their fewer attacks, but they deserved to take a 3-1 lead before Birkirkara pulled back a goal from their best player Falcone.

The match had a quiet start and we had to wait till the 18th minute to see the first shot at goal – a Miguel Alba effort which Gudja goalie Jonathan Debono saved without much difficulty.

In the 22nd minute, an Alba cross was not cleared by the Gudja defence. The ball went to Isaac Ntow who shot high over the bar.

Three minutes later, Caio Prado set Alba on the edge of the area, but the latter’s effort was turned to corner by the Gudja goalie.

It was, however, Gudja who opened the scoring in their first real attack in the 28th minute. It was Rundell Winchester who advanced from near his area on the left flank into the Birkirkara area and crossed low for Gabriel Mensah to score after a first effort had been blocked by Andrew Hogg.

Gudja were forced to make a second substitution on 36 minutes when Allan Miranda (who had earlier substituted Jonathan Bondin) was injured in a tackle and had to be replaced by Llywelyn Cremona.

Soon after, off a Cain Attard cross, Federico Falcone saw his flick being well saved by goalie Debono.

The Stripes equalised on 41 minutes when Alba’s cross was met by the towering Falcone who headed in via the upright.

In the 45th minute, it was a timely tackle by Oscar Carniello on Gabriel Mensah that avoided an awkward situation for Birkirkara.

In first half added time, Gudja went close again through an Aidan Friggieri shot from the edge of the area that hit the crossbar before going out.

And soon after, from a Friggieri cross, Winchester had an excellent header just missing the far upright with goalie Hogg completely beaten.

Soon after the start of the second half, Gudja goalie Debono did well to rush out of his charge to anticipate Falcone

On 54 minutes, from a Briffa freekick, Enrico Pepe, up with his forwards, saw his header saved by goalie Debono.

Gudja again stunned the Stripes on 62 minutes when Gabriel Mensah fired a shot from about 35 metres which finished at the back of the net leaving goalie Hogg staring.

The Stripes went further behind on 71 minutes when Pepe floored Winchester in the area. Gudja were awarded a penalty from which the same Winchester made no mistake. Pepe received a second yellow card and was therefore dismissed leaving his side in 10 men.

Despite playing with a man less, Birkirkara fought back to reduce the gap on 78 minutes through a Falcone effort after a cross from the right.

Birkirkara went close to an equaliser on 86 minutes when Maurizio Vella had a full blooded effort blocked near the goal-line.

In added time, Jimenez sped forward after a miss by Birkirkara defender Carniello, but he shot wide as Hogg rushed out to narrow the angle.

At the other end, it was Debono who saved the day for Gudja as he saved a Briffa humdinger.

And just before the end, Falcone also tried with a good effort, but the ball went just wide.

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