(2-3, 1-0, 1-3, 3-3)
Just three days after having salvaged their title hopes, by beating San Giljan in their last league encounter, Neptunes repeated the dose in the league decider, to keep a tight hold on the league championship,
for the fourth year in succession, and also to win it for the 22nd time in their history.
The match was played under a cloud, with the two game suspension handed out to San Giljan’s Karl Galea, in the incidents after the last league match between the two sides. Neptunes’ Alex Ciric was also fined, but was eligible to play, after the same two players were ousted out of the match.
Another bumper crowd attended this decider, and they were regaled with another thrilling encounter, which saw Neptunes always in front, with the Saints pulling back in the first four occasions, but when they fell further behind, they had a hill to climb. They twice went to within a goal of their opponents, but Neptunes held out, and delivered the killing blow just before the end of the match. When the game was about to restart, only a formality, with less than a second left to play, the Italian referee, Stefano Riccitelli, was the victim of a bottle thrown from the stands, when he was hit on the side of his head. He immediately abandoned the match, and the other referee, Mario Dalli, confirmed it a few moments later, with the result of the match left to stand, as Neptunes started their celebrations.
Neptunes drew first blood, through Tamas Molnar, with Paul Fava replying for the Saints. Molnar again put Neptunes in front, with Marko Avramovic getting San Gilkjan’s second leveller. It was Niki Lanzon who gave Neptunes their next advantage, and they kept it till the end of the session.In the second period there was a dearth of goals, with just one being netted, as Dino Zammit put the Saints on an even footing once again, and at the interval both teams were tied on a 4-4 score.
After the break Neptunes went ahead yet again, but still San Giljan came back, as matthew Zamnmit tied the score for the fourth time. Neptunes were resilient, as they struck back, and this time it was a double strike, as Michele Stellini’s deadly left hand found its mark, and with a session left to play Neptunes were riding on a 6-4 advantage. They didn’t rest there, as Steve Camilleri put them on an even better lead. The Saints came crawling back, and goals by Avramovic and Fava put them back into contention. Camilleri again took Neptunes to a double advantage, but Peter Biros dragged San Giljan back into the fray, with his goal. Time then ran out on the saints, and when Neptunes were on an extra player advantage, they held back until Camilleri scored his hat trick in this last session, just before time. Then came the bottle throwing incident, and the match stopped there.
Amidst joyful celebrations Neptunes were crowned league champions, as Niki Lanzon was handed the winning trophy by the BOV Chief Officer, Anthony Scicluna, marking Neptunes’ fourth league title on the trot, and a total of 22 league successes.
San Giljan: D. Camilleri, JC Cutajar , C. Gialanze , J. Sammut , K. Dowling , M. Zammit 1, M. Avramovic 2, A. Bianchi , C. Spiteri de Barro , P. Biros 1, P. Fava 2, D. Zammit 1, M. Pisani
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon 1, A. Sammut , M. Stellini 2, T. Agius , A. Ciric , S. Camilleri 3, J. Camilleri , G. Pace , S. Gravina , B. Lanzon , T. Molnar 2, C. Mercieca 1
Referis: M. Dalli, S. Riccitelli