FA Trophy: Holders Balzan stunned by Pietà Hotspurs

Pietà Hotspurs produced a shocking result as they eliminated Balzan following a narrow 1-0 win.

Photo: Dominic Borg
Photo: Dominic Borg

Holders Balzan made it to this stage after eliminating Santa Lucia following a 2-0 win. On the other hand, Pietà won 2-1 against Xewkija Tigers.

Jacques Scerri’s side started the match as clear favourites since they were playing against the only First Division side left in the trophy. Conscious that their position in the league is not an ideal one, Balzan were aware that another triumph in the FA Trophy could mean that they will secure European football again.

Balzan threatened Pieta` after six minutes. Ivan Bozovic’s delivery from the right was met by Shinobu Adekoya who headed the ball off target.

Moments later, Bozovic drilled another cross from the right in the direction of Augustine Loof whose header sailed marginally wide.

As time went by, Balzan took more control and went close to score on the 14th minute. From a corner, Ricardo Correa Duarte sent a cross into the path of Ljubomirac and the latter finished centimetres wide.

Balzan were denied by the post on the 22nd minute. Steve Pisani sent a volley from distance that stamped off the upright.

Pieta` hit back on the 34th minute. Nicholas Pisani received a pass from Kllian Amehi before firing a shot that sailed centimetres off target.

One minute from half-time, it was Adekoye of Balzan who hit a shot from inside the penalty area that was blocked by the opposing goalkeeper.

Balzan started the second half where they left off the first and created another opportunity on the 55th minute. Correa’s delivery from a free-kick fell for Alfred Effiong whose header was deflected for a corner.

Five minutes later, Miguel Chetcuti was on the alert to deny Luke Montebello from close range. From the resulting corner, Bozovic headed the ball slightly wide following a good delivery by Pisani.

Chetcuti produced another great save on the 67th minute. From a free-kick, Correa hit a thumping shot that was tipped behind by Pieta`s young goalkeeper.

However, it was the First Division side who broke the deadlock three minutes later. Clive Gauci payed an excellent pass towards Jose Lucas Caetano and the latter drilled a low shot from inside the penalty area that hit the post before ending up inside the net.

Balzan were unlucky not to equalise on the 76th minute as they were denied by the post once again. Luke Montebello sent a diagonal shot that hit the upright. The goalkeeper was beaten; however, Pieta`s defenders were first on the  ball and cleared their marks.

Two minutes later, Effiong’s effort from inside the penalty area forced a superb save from Chetcuti.

During the additional time given by the referee, Montebello received the ball on the edge of the penalty area and fired a shot that failed to hit the target.

This was the last chance of the match as Pieta` held on to qualify to the semi-final of the FA Trophy.

Balzan starting line-up: Kristijan Naumovski, Augustine Loof, Dale Camilleri (Paul Fenech-66), Shinobu Adekoya (Alfred Effiong-45), Steven Pisani, Steven Bezzina (Stefan Dimic-66), Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic, Ricardo Correa Duarte, Samir Arab, Luke Montebello

Pietà Hotspurs starting line-up: Miguel Chetcuti, Jake Ghio, Dejan Vukovic, Clive Gauci (James Scicluna-76), Nicholas Pisani (Trais Bartolo-86), Christian Sammut, Jose Lucas Caetano, Sheldon Mizzi, Klian Amehi (Klian Amehi-82), Liam Mckay, Irmiya Jalo Ishmaya

Referee: Fyodor Zammit

Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Darko Stankovic

Fourth Official: Slobodan Petrovic