10.09.12 Swieqi turn the tables for historic win
Swieqi United FC went through the first round of the FA Trophy for the first time in their history on Thursday night, beating rivals Mdina Knights by the score of 2-1 in extra-time. The Orange, in their first official outing of the season, played out an extremely nail-biting encounter, and showed patches of brilliant football in the process.
Swieqi were bereft of long-term injury sufferer John Debono, but his absence was countered by the debuts of some newboys - Clayton Borg finally made his first appearance in a Swieqi United shirt after being very close to signing 18 months ago; his tireless running was a constant thorn in Mdina's defence. Lee Grima also made his debut in an Orange shirt, and provided the assist for Swieqi's winner, as well as a number of accurate passes all over the pitch. Swieqi also fielded new goalkeeper Michael Falzon, who played a blinder, as well as Shaun Decesare in left-back, and Andrew Muscat on the wing.
The first half was a very balanced affair: Swieqi started strongly and held possession but could not pierce the Mdina rearguard. The Knights gained the upperhand soon after, although it was Swieqi that went close to opening the score with a Fenech shot which was easily parried by Mdina goalkeeper Aquilina. On 31 minutes, a reckless challenge by Aquilina on Swieqi striker Debono had the bench calling for the goalkeeper's dismissal, but referee Trustan Farrugia Cann, who had a good match overall, shunned the Orange faithful and awarded a freekick after cautioning the 'keeper. The Orange ended the first half on the attacking end, and had a number of consecutive corners which were easily neutralised by the Mdina defence.
Swieqi started the second half strongly and again had a number of corners which did not result in any damage whatsoever. The match proceeded as a balanced affair, before Swieqi United had a goal disallowed for a dubious offside call on Fabien Debono. This shook the Mdina players and the match intensified once again, with neither side gaining any significant advantage on its adversaries.
The extra-time period got off to an explosive start with Mdina forging ahead after a well-developed move involving Busuttil and Pace. Swieqi were not left dejected however, as the Orange mustered all the energy left inside them to equalise through newly-signed Shaun Decesare. The youngster rose above friend and foe to meet a cross from the right flank and hit home from inside the penalty box, sending the Swieqi fans into raptures.
Swieqi now had momentum in their favour, and try as they might, Mdina could not create any dangerous opportunities. Indeed, it was Swieqi who notched the all-important winner deep into extra-time, with Matthew Fenech (Man of the Match) latching onto Lee Grima's through ball and depositing the ball past an onrushing Aquilina into the net. That last-gasp effort was enough for Swieqi to break some records: the Orange had never beaten Mdina in a competitive match, and had never gone past the first round in the FA Trophy.
The Orange will now travel to Gozo for their second round match against Sannat Lions, who beat Kalkara 2-0 in an earlier match.
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