After finishing as runner-ups in the Premier League in two consecutive seasons 2016/17 and 2017/18 and after losing the FA Trophy final in 2016 on penalties to Sliema W FC, Balzan were determined that this would be the year for their first major honour.
It was the first time ever that Balzan won a major honour. Alfred Effiong will also go down in the history books for scoring four goals in an FA Trophy final and sealing the victory in a penalty shoot-out after the 120 minutes against Valletta with the game finishing level 4-4.
In the 90th minute the score was 2-2 but in extra-time the Alfred Effiong added two more goals to give Balzan a 4-2 lead and in the last five minutes of extra-time Valletta equalized with a Mario Fontanella penalty and a Rowen Muscat header.
A penalty shootout had to determine the winner, with Nicholas Pulis being the only one to miss for Valletta before Alfred Effiong netted the last penalty for a 9-8 final score (including penalties)
In an amazing match played at the National Stadium, Balzan wrote history when they won the FA Trophy for the first time after defeating Valletta following a penalty shoot out. It was a match which had all the ingredients of a cup tie with Alfred Effiong being the toast of the town scoring all four Balzan goals. A win which also gives them the Europa League participation.
Edizzjoni Specjali tal-programm L-ARGUMENT li jaghti harsa fid-detal tal-finali tal-FA Trophy bejnBalzan F.C. u Valletta Football Club.
Posted by L-ARGUMENT on Monday, May 20, 2019
Balzan went in search of an early goal and in the 1st minute a long range shot by Ivan Bozovic was partially saved by Henry Bonello with a rebound by Alfred Effiong being blocked by a defender into a corner. From the resultant corner kick taken by Ricardo Correa Duarte, a header by Alfred Effiong was saved in style by Henry Bonello.
This early pressure by Balzan gave fruit as in the 8th minutes they opened the score. Ivan Bozovic took advantage of a blunder by Rowen Muscat, and served ALFRED EFFIONG who in turn dribbled past Steve Borg and slotted the ball into the corner of the net.
In the 27th minute Valletta went near for the first time when, off a cross by Jean Borg, Kyrian Nwoko headed downwards the ball towards Mario Fontanella but the latter was ruled in an offside position.
The Citizens increased their pressure and eight minutes from the end of the first half Santiago Malano played towards Mario Fontanella who found Kyrian Nwoko but the latter’s shot hit side netting.
In the 34th minute, Balzan suffered a severe setback as heir play-maker Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes (Kadu) had to leave the pitch injured and replaced by Dale Camilleri.
In the 40th minute Valletta drew level when Raed Ibrahim Saleh played a ball in the area with Ricardo Correa Duarte failing to control well. In came speeding ENMY PENA BELTRE who fired the ball into the net.
But Valletta’s joy was short lived as in the 43rd minute Balzan went in front once again. A shot by Steve Pisani was deflected by defender Steve Borg into ALFRED EFFIONG’s path who converted. The assistant referee flagged for an offside but the referee ruled over him and the goal was endorsed with Valletta protesting heavily.
On resumption Valletta were doing all the early running and in the 48th minute, off a corner taken by Mario Fontanella, a header by Santiago Malano just missed the target.
In the 52nd minute Bojan Kaljevic set Mario Fontanella whose shot from inside the area was blocked by Sean Mintoff.
In the 55th minute. Balzan responded through a Steve Pisani shot which was partially blocked by Henry Bonello and from the rebound Uros Ljubomirac shot well over the bar.
A minute later Enmy Pena Beltre sent a cross to Mario Fontanella who passed towards Bojan Kaljevic only for the latter to conclude wide from a good position.
In the 72nd minute, Valletta levelled matters again when goalkeeper Sean Mintoff failed to hold a free kick taken by substitute Bogdan Gavrila’s with the ball falling to ENMY PENA BELTRE who fired the ball into the net.
Four minutes from the end Santiago Malano tried his luck from the edge of the area with the ball finishing well over the bar.
In the last minutes the match could have gone either way. First off a Mario Fontanella cross Kyrian Nwoko’s central header was saved by Mintoff. And on the other end Henry Bonello saved over Alfred Effiong.
The match went into extra time and in the 95th minute Balzan went once again in the lead. A free kick taken by Steve Pisani found ALFRED EFFIONG who converted from beneath goal to grab a memorable hat trick.
In the 99th minute a shot by Kyian Nwoko was saved by Mintoff.
And a minute later, a cross by Alfred Effiong caused havoc in the opposing area with Enmy Pena Beltre nearly committing an own goal but Henry Bonello saved on the line.
Balzan increased their lead in the 104th minute when off a cross by Ivan Bozovic once again ALFRED EFFIONG was there to head home past a helpless Henry Bonello.
Valletta another chance which came from Valletta with Sean Mintoff saving well on Kyrian Nwoko.
Five minutes from the end of extra time Ricardo Correa Duarte brought down Enmy Pena Beltre in the area and from the penalty spot MARIO FONTANELLA made no mistake.
In the 117th minute Valletta were reduced to ten men when Bogdan Gavrila was sent off for a reaction on Sean Cipriott.
This incident didn’t demoralise Valletta as two minutes from the end of extra time they levelled matters again when Joseph Zerafa played a long ball in the area and ROWEN MUSCAT was first on the ball to head into the net.
Penalties had to decide the winner of this year’s edition. In the penalty shoot-out, Santiago Malano scored the first penalty for Valletta, Aleksandar Kosoric scored for Balzan; Nicholas Pulis had his penalty saved by Mintoff, while Nenad Sljivic converted to put Balzan 6-5 ahead. Mario Fontanella scored for Valletta and Uros Ljubomirac did the same for Balzan. Jean Borg and Andrija Majdevac scored the next two for Valletta and Balzan respectively; Rowen Muscat scored to make the score 8-8 but Alfred Effiong scored the decisive penalty to hand the FA Trophy to Balzan.
BALZAN : Sean Mintoff, Aleksandar Kosoric, Nenad Sljivic, Steve Pisani (Sean Cipriott 103′), Steve Bezzina (Andrija Majdevac 77′), Paul Fenech, Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes (Dale Camilleri 34′)( Justin Grioli 105′), Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte.
VALLETTA : Henry Bonello, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg (Joseph Zerafa 72′), Santiago Malano, Kyrian Nwoko, Jean Borg, Enmy Pena Beltre (Shaun Dimech 120′), Raed Ibrahim Saleh (81′ Nicholas Pulis), Rowen Muscat, Bojan Kaljevic (Bogdan Gavrila 63′), Mario Fontanella.
Referee: Mario Apap