First Division side Pietà Hotspurs stunned holders Balzan as a goal mid-way through the second half handed them a narrow win and a spot in the semi-finals of the FA Trophy.
Holders Balzan made it to quarter finals by eliminating Santa Lucia with a win of 2-0, while, Pietà eliminated St. George’s 4-1, Mqabba 3-0 and Xewkija Tigers 2-1.
Balzan started the match as clear favourites since they were playing against the only First Division side left in the Trophy. Balzan were hoping for another triumph in the FA Trophy as it was the only option left to secure European football again.
For this game Pietà adopted a defensive tactic and had goalkeeper Miguel Chetcuti in brilliant form, making some fine saves during the second half. On the other hand, although much more was expected more from Balzan, luck was definitely not on their side as they hit the crossbar on three ocassions.
Balzan made their intentions clear from the very start as in the 6th minute they threatened Pieta` with an Ivan Bozovic’s cross from the right which was met by Adeseyi Adekoya but the latter headed the ball off target.
Minutes later ivan Bozovic sent another cross from the right, this time met by Augustine Loof whose header finished just wide.
Balzan were unlucky not to take the lead in the 12th minute as Luke Montebello hit the bar with a lob from the right when set through by Steven Pisani.
Balzan took more control as time passed by and in the 14th minute they went close to score when following a corner taken by Ricardo Correa Duarte, the shot by Uros Ljubomirac finished centimetres wide.
In the 22nd minute, Balzan were denied by the post as Steven Pisani sent a volley from distance that stamped off the upright.
Pieta` hit back on the 34th minute. Nicholas Pisani received a pass from Kllian Amehi before firing a shot that missed the target by centimetres .
One minute from half-time, it was Adeseye Adekoya hit a shot from inside the penalty area that was blocked by goalkeeper Miguel Chetcuti.
In the second half, Balzan replaced Adeseyi Adekoya with Alfred Effiong in their bid to strengthen the forward line.
They started the second half where they left off the first and created another opportunity on the 55th minute. Following a free kick taken by Ricardo Correa, a header by Alfred Effiong was deflected for a corner.
On the half hour, goalkeeper Miguel Chetcuti managed, to push into a corner, an attempt by Luke Montebello from close range. From the resulting corner taken by Steven Pisani, Ivan Bozovic headed the ball slightly wide.
In the 68th minute, goalkeeper Miguel Chetcuti produced another great save over a thumping shot from a direct free kick taken by Ricardo Correa.
However, in the 70th minute, against the way of play it was Pieta Hotspors who broke the deadlock. Clive Gauci payed an intelligent pass towards JOSE LUCAS CAETANO and the latter drilled a low shot from inside the penalty area that hit the post before ending up inside the net.
Balzan reacted but were unlucky not to equalise in the 76th minute as they were denied by the post once again. Luke Montebello sent a diagonal shot that hit the upright and with the goalkeeper beaten a Pieta’ defender were first on the ball and cleared off the line.
Two minutes later, an effort from inside the penalty area by Alfred Effiong forced another superb save from Miguel Chetcuti.
During the additional time given by the referee, the last chance of the match came to Luke Montebello when he received the ball on the edge of the penalty area and fired a shot that finished off target.
Finally Pieta` held firmly on to qualify to the semi-final of the FA Trophy.
BALZAN : Kristijan Naumovski, Augustine Loof, Dale Camilleri (Paul Fenech 66’), Adeseyi Shinobu Adekoya (Alfred Effiong 46’ ), Steven Pisani, Steven Bezzina (Stefan Dimic 66’), Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic, Ricardo Duarte Correa, Samir Arab, Luke Montebello.
PIETA’ :Miguel Chetcuti, Jake Ghio, Dejan Vukovic, Clive Gauci (James Scicluna 76’), Nicholas Pisani (Travis Bartolo 88’), Christian Sammut, Jose Lucas Caetano, Sheldon Mizzi, Kllian Amehi (Clyde Bouvet 82’), Liam Mckay, Irimiya Ishaya Jalo .
Referee: Fyodor Zammit