The University of Malta Futsal team suffered another defeat last night against Mriehel ESS. Coming from a difficult 10-4 defeat to Hamrun Tre Angeli, the Knights knew that it would not be an easy task to bounce back with a win; Mriehel are difficult opposition and right behind them in the table. Their cause was not aided by the absences of Leo Muscat and Andrew Camilleri, who were both suspended following somewhat dubious straight red cards in the Hamrun defeat.
The game was much more balanced than the Knight’s previous match-up; with both sides going toe-to-toe in a very balanced encounter. It was Mriehel who took the lead midway through the half with a goal from Mark Galea and from that point on Mriehel began to assert themselves on the game. That being said, they could not find a way through the Knights’ defensive line which held firm and owed a lot to some timely saves by Matthew Gatt. The first half ended with a minimal deficit for the Knights to come back from.
The second half however continued in much of the same vein as the first. Mriehel had the edge but, that being said, the students showed some good play and were dangerous especially on the counter. However a lapse in concentration gave Mriehel the chance to double their lead; which they did early in the second half with Faisal Alnakua taking advantage of a defensive mix-up.
The Knights kept fighting though and were denied by the Mriehel goalkeeper and also the woodwork on one occasion. With Mriehel really on the fence, tensions began to fray and Alejandro Rubia Morenas was involved in an off the ball foul and some pushing and showing as a result. The referee inexplicably elected to book both Morenas and the Mriehel player involved in the clash. To add more to the question marks in the stands, the referee in question gave Morenas a second yellow card for what seemed to be an attempt by Morenas to defend the ball. This was the third dubious sending off given by the same referee in the space of two games.
Mriehel soon added a 3rd and a 4th through Essa Benatiya and Kamal Edgeli. As if to balance the books, Mriehel then saw a player sent off the end of the game for a foul off the ball; but it was too little too late for the Knights and the score ended 4-0 in Mriehel’s favour.
All in all, the Knights weren’t at their best and Mriehel probably deserved their win as they controlled the game for long periods of time. That being said though, another poor decision by a referee who should already be under scrutiny for prior poor decisions killed any hope the Knights had of a comeback. We hope that, for the benefit of Futsal as a whole, an eye is kept on refereeing performances of all games in the future.
UoM Knights Lineup:
Matthew Gatt (C), Dylan Cacciattolo, Paul Scerri, Dalziel Bugeja, Alejandro Rubia Morenas, Andrea Farrugia, Aidan Caruana, Martin Caruana, Gaetano Gesualdi, Freddie Mifsud, Neil Cauchi, Jonathan Sammut.
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