Neptunes 10 – Sliema 10
(3-1, 3-4, 2-2, 2-3)
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon 1, M. Lanzon, M. Stellini 2, T. Agius, G. Mizzi, S. Camilleri 2, J. Camilleri, A. Zarb Cousin, P. Biros 3, B. Muscat, T. Molnar 2, C. Mercieca
Sliema: R. Coleiro, J. Gabarretta 1, N. Lubrano, T. Sullivan, M. Meli 1, J. Soler 2, J.Borg 1, C. Cluett, J. Brownrigg, A. Attard, I. Basara 2, A. Petkovic 3, K. Schembri
Referees: S. Scappini, A. Pascucci
What appeared to be valid goal scored by Michele Stellini 1 minute 45 seconds from the end of another gripping match between our team and Sliema was annulled after the Italian referees had seemingly convalidated the point.
The table officials drew the attention of one of the referees to some infringement which was totally unclear to all around, and after the two officials consulted each other, the goal was disallowed and a free throw awarded to the Blues near their goal apparently on the grounds that Neptunes’ possession period had elapsed.
Sergey Markoch was stunned and approached the referee to demand an explanation for the decision taken. Sliema were once again relieved to be saved by a controversial decision after they had been let off the hook when the referees had failed to spot an alleged interference on a Sirens penalty throw by one of their players barely a week earlier.
The ten-all result meant that our boys have at least maintained their five-point advantage over Sliema who fought desperately to save the game in what was for them a must-win clash.
Steve Camilleri was back and the team appeared to have an edge as they always conducted the scoreline. There 11 major infringement against us, including two penalties, from which the Blues converted three, while we were successful on three out of seven extra-man sets we had.
After a 3-1 first session lead which should have been bigger had we not wasted two gilt-edged opportunities, we took our foot off the accelerator to concede the second quarter by the odd goal in seven.
We had held the upper hand as once more Peter Biros with three goals, Steve Camilleri and Tamas Molnar (two each) stretched our advantage to 5-2 and 6-3 before we kept our heads in front on two goals during the latter sessions.
Jordan Camilleri was fouled out shortly into the last session and we had to dig into our reserves of knowhow to maintain the lead. Still there was a spate of successive exclusions against us after the Blues managed to draw level with four minutes left in the final quarter.
Then came the disallowed goal episode and with that a string of controlled protests from our clan who claimed we got the rough edge of that late decision.