FA Trophy | Birkirkara 1 (4) – Sliema Wanderers 1 (3)

In a match that had to be settled by a penalty shoot-out, Birkirkara secured a 4-3 win over Sliema to make it through the final of the FA Trophy.

Mislav Andelkovic (Birkirkara) and Edmond Agius (Sliema) in action. Photo: Dominic Borg
Mislav Andelkovic (Birkirkara) and Edmond Agius (Sliema) in action. Photo: Dominic Borg

The first semi-final saw the teams of Birkirkara and Sliema Wanderers facing off each other for a place in the final of the FA Trophy. A win for Birkirkara was important to ensure their participation during next season’s Europa League even if they suffer a defeat during the final. This is because if Sliema win the trophy, Birkirkara will not participate in next year’s Europa League despite finishing fourth in the Premier League. On the other hand, Sliema needed a win in order to keep on hoping for a place in Europe through the FA Trophy.

Sliema started well and had an excellent chance to go ahead after just three minutes. From a corner, Ricardo Calisto delivered a cross towards Frank Temile whose header forced a great save from Kristijan Naumovski.

Naumovski was on the alert once more on the 5th minute. Jefferson De Assis hit a low shot from outside the penalty area that was neutralised by Birkirkara’s custodian.

Birkirkara replied a minute later. The ball was delivered towards Jake Grech whose shot went over.

The Wanderers had another chance on the 11th minute. Temile sent De Assis through on goal and the latter saw his shot from the left being saved by Naumovski.

Naumovski denied Sliema again two minutes later. Calisto received the ball from Temile before serving the unmarked Edmond Agius whose shot from inside the penalty area was saved by the Macedonian goalkeeper.

The tempo of the match slowed down after this chance. Sliema still had the edge over their opponents; however, they were finding it difficult to penetrate Birkirkara’s defence.

In fact, Sliema created just one more opportunity prior to half-time. Mattias Muchardi fired a shot from a free-kick that failed to hit the target.

Birkirkara forged ahead four minutes into the second half. Edward Herrera’s cross from the right was met by Ognjen Rolovic whose effort went past Glenn Zammit.

Sliema hit back and equalised on the 62nd minute. Following a horrible mistake by Lucas Maia, Temile went through on the right side of the penalty area before placing the ball inside the net.

Paul Zammit’s side threatened Sliema on the 79th minute. Substitute Srdjan Dimitrov saw his effort from distance going high.

Three minutes later, Jake Grech hit a shot from a free-kick that was parried by Zammit.

In the remaining minutes, neither team managed to find a way past each other as the game went into extra-time.

One minute into the extra-time, Calisto sent a shot from an angled position that sailed slightly wide.

The post denied Birkirkara from regaining the lead on the 105th minute. From a free-kick, Dimitrov hit a powerful drive that stamped off the upright.

Sliema replied on the 110th minute. Calisto received the ball from Agius, but finished over from a promising position.

Both teams remained solid at the back during the remaining ten minutes and the game went into the drama of a penalty shoot-out.

Following the penalty shoot-out, Birkirkara emerged victorious as they scored three times, while Sliema scored twice. Dimtrov, Waldemar Acosta and Mislav Andelkovic scored for the stripes. Meanwhile, Temile and Sansone scored for the Wanderers.

Birkirkara starting line-up: Kristijan Naumovski, Edward Herrera, Lucas Maia, Fernando Barbosa, Mislav Andelkovic, Jake Grech (Neil Micallef- 102), Kurt Zammit, Ognjen Rolovic (Srdjan Dimitrov- 72), Waldemar Acosta, Ryan Scicluna, Cain Attard

Sliema Wanderers starting line-up: Glenn Zammit, Mark Scerri, Stefano Bianchardi, Frank Temile, Ricardo Calisto, Goran Adamovic, Edmond Agius, Ashong Ni Nortey, Jefferson De Assis (Kurt Shaw – 105), John Mintoff (Michele Sansone – 39), Mattias Muchardi

Referee: Malcolm Spiteri

Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, William Debattista

Additional Assistant Referees: Fyodor Zammit, Darryl Agius

Fourth Official: Mario Apap