San Ġiljan 9
(2-3, 1-1, 4-4, 2-1)
Exiles: A. Borg Cole, J. Rizzo Naudi 1, K. Rizzo Naudi, D. Pace Lupi, T. Sullivan 2, S. Vassallo, J. Spiteri Staines, K. Grixti, S. Galea Pace, P. Borg 1, A. Kunac, M. Toth 5, K. Lanzon.
San Ġiljan: D. Camilleri, J.C. Cutajar 1, D. Abela, K. Galea, K. Dowling, M. Zammit, B. Letica 2, A. Bianchi 1, R. Mock, C. Gialanze, P. Fava 1, B. Rath 3, M. Pisani 1.
Refs: P. Balzan, P. Bensaia.
If any proof were needed that this year’s campaign is developing into the closest contest ever, all-round balance prevailing among all teams, this was provided yesterday when Exiles Ferretti and the confident San Ġiljan Giuseppe’s shared the spoils on 9-9 in a hard-fought match.
Fresh from their victories over Sliema and Neptunes, the Saints could not be blamed for assuming that they would keep up their winning streak against Exiles. But Aurelien Cousin’s team had other ideas and, led by naphand scorer Marcon Toth and a sound team effort, they managed to sneak away with a point.
The opening session was a close affair with Exiles twice taking the lead before the Saints drew level on both occasions only to shade their opponents on 3-2. Exchanges were quiter in the second part of the game as the teams shared two goals. This left San Ġiljan’s noses in front on 4-3.
But the balance between the sides was evident.
In tennis terms, San Ġiljan maintained their mini-break obtained in the first session as the teams netted four apiece in the third quarter with Toth scoring three times and Letica twice even if the latter missed a great chance to make it 9-6 before Exiles’ Hungarian player scored on the stroke of session time.
It was all to play for as the final quarter got under way. Toth netted his fifth goal to make it eight-all and for the next minutes it was exciting end-to-end fare as Exiles’ Julian Rizzo Naudi levelled the score with one minute 40 seconds left after a Bogdan Rath penalty had given the Saints a 9-8 advantage with just over two minutes to go.
At the end of the day it was no less than both teams deserve.