Gzira drop points in first match of New Year
Gzira United 1 Gudja United 1
7th January 2022, National Stadium, Ta’Qali
Gzira started off the New Year slipping up with the loss of two precious points in a scrappy 1-1 draw against hopeful frontrunner's Gudja United.
The jinx of Gzira conceding late goals and missing out on important points has struck again. This was a frustrating match for Gzira who have become accustomed to such similar matches in the past, when they have been missing out on precious points in matches against lesser quoted opposition, especially when surrendering leads in the later stages of such matches. If the Maroons have to be considered as serious title challengers, it is such matches which have to be won.
On general balance of play and possession, Gzira did enough to should have won this match, but this was not to be. Play was mostly concentrated in midfield with clear cut chances at a minimum. Gzira scored with their first attempt on target, while Gudja scored with only their second attempt on target. Gzira United created more chances on target in the last ten minutes of the match, after conceding to Gudja’s late equaliser, then they created in the whole match.
The only consolation for Gzira after the latest round of matches from Match Day 15 was that the Maroons have maintained sole second place, despite Hamrun extending their lead at the top by 11 points.
The match started with a cross by Gzira’s Dias causing some hesitant moments in Gudja’s penalty area. This was followed in the 3rd minute with a cross by Gzira’s Captain Muscat being just missed by De Assis. Gudja responded in the 7th minute with their only attempt on target in the first half, with a central shot by Azzopardi being well saved by Gzira’s keeper Zarkov.
In the 10th minute Gzira’s Scerri hit wide from a cross by Dias. In the 12th,22nd and 27th minutes crosses by Kolega were just missed by De Assis in Gudja’s penalty area. In the 41st minute, a long shot by Gzira’s Riascos was cleared to safety by Gudja’s defence. The half concluded with a penalty call on De Assis being turned down.
Gzira started the second half taking more of the offensive initiative. In fact, they were rewarded for their efforts by taking the lead with their first attempt on target in the 53rd minute. A ball won by Gzira’s Riascos in midfield was crossed to Dias on the right flank and after a run, crossed into the penalty area, finding Gzira’s Scerri nicely placing the ball into the net, giving no chance to Gudja’s keeper Zammit to save.
In the 63rd minute a freekick by Gzira’s Muscat was neutralized by Gudja’s goalkeeper. Gzira maintained pressure, to try to close of the match with a second goal, however Gudja started stepping up their game in response.
In fact, Gudja managed to equalize in the 79th minute with their second attempt on target. Prates sent Plut through on the left, who crossed from the byline to find substitute Nagamatsu hitting home from the goal area edge, after some lack of concentration in the Gzira defence.
After this goal, Gzira hit back urgently with a number of attempts on target. In the 83rd minute, a freekick by Mendoza from the left flank was saved with difficulty by Gudja’s Zammit. In the 85th minute, an angled shot by Gzira’s Correa Duarte from the left went just wide. In the 88th minute, a freekick by Gzira’s Bohrer from the just outside the right of Gudja’s penalty area, was saved with great difficulty by Gudja’s custodian in two attempts.
Gzira greatest chance to find the winner arrived in additional time, in the 95th minute, when a cross by Gzira’s substitute Borg from the left, found De Assis’s strong and well-placed header being excellently saved by Gudja’s keeper Zammit, to deny Gzira a late victory.
There was no more time left and both sides had to settle for a draw and a point each.
Gzira’s attention now turns to next weekend’s FA Trophy Round 32 match against Challenge League leaders Sliema Wanderers, hoping for a positive run in this season’s competition.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH:Maxuell Maia