Hibernians have lifted the first piece of silver of the season, after seeing off Birkirkara in a nerve-wrecking contest, which saw Hibernians taking a three-goal lead at half-time, Birkirkara managing to reduce the deficit to one and the Paolites sealing the issue with a very late goal. Courtesy of this win, Hibernians have now triumphed in this cup for a record six times.
Both teams have included some of their new acquisitions in their starting line-ups, as Jesmond Zammit inserted both Emma Xuereb and Rebecca Bajada in the first eleven for Hibernians, while on the other side, Birkirkara’s coach Shawn Meilak included four of the new acquisitions; Ann-Marie Said, Tracy Teuma, Leanne Micallef and Sonia Schembri.
A big shout-out goes to Frame Football Malta, whose players were for the first time ever player escorts, in occasion of the UEFA Grassroots’ programme, which is responsible for promoting equality in the game of football.
Also, it is worthwhile mentioning both set of supporters, who attended this match and encouraged their heroes until the final whistle, producing a fantastic support which can hopefully remain in women’s football throughout the season.
Meanwhile, Hibernians were the first team to take the initiative and they knocked on Birkirkara’s door after three minutes, when Charlene Zammit saw her header well-saved by Birkirkara’s goalkeeper Janice Xuereb. As time went by, the match became fairly balanced, but the Paolites forged ahead on the 14th minute, when Jade Flask headed home from a corner. Their lead did not last long, as Tracy Teuma equalized for Birkirkara on her debut, to level matters in the tie. The Stripes almost turned around the result, when Kim Parnis fired a shot within metres from Hibernians’ goalkeeper Rita Tagliaferro, but the latter reacted with a splendid save to deny Paris the goal which would had put Birkirkara ahead. That save looked like to have ignited Hibernians, as in a space of 10 minutes, they netted three goals, to make sure of the victory, despite there was still another 45 minutes to be fulfilled. Martina Borg grabbed a brace and provided an assist with a great piece of quality to Shona Zammit in between, to end the first 45 minutes at 4-1.
After the change of ends, Hibernians were more focused in preserving the lead while Birkirkara tried to inch themselves up in the pitch, but they struggled to slip behind Hibernians’ back line. When Dorianne Theuma hit the woodwork with a stupendous shot from outside the box, the script looked like it was already written, paving the way for a large win for the champions of Malta. Yet, Birkirkara were anything but done, and if they were still vivid in the contest, Parnis’ delightful goal, put Hibernians’ victory under serious threat. Raina Giusti’s 4-3 goal on the 79th minute, led to another match in the same match, as all of a sudden, Birkirkara were pushing in numbers, seeking that equalizer which would have been the cherry on the cake for a crazy match. However, in the added time, Hibernians’ talisman Theuma, put daylight between Hibernians and Birkirkara, with a sumptuous strike from the edge of the box.
After the match, MFA Vice-President Ludovico Micallef presented the medals and the trophy to Hibernians, with goalkeeper Tagliaferro lifting the Super Cup for the Paolites.
Hibernians: Rita Tagliaferro; Corissa Vella, Rodianne Borg, Mandy Debono, Jade Flask, Charlene Zammit, Emma Xuereb, Shona Zammit, Rebecca Bajada, Dorianne Theuma, Martina Borg.
Birkirkara: Janice Xuereb; Gabriella Zahra, Ann-Marie Said, Kim Parnis, Stephania Farrugia, Tracy Teuma, Alishia Sultana, Leanne Micallef, Raina Giusti, Sonia Schembri, Yasmeen Vella.