Easter Monday saw another action packed programme in both the UK and Australia / New Zealand. There were Maltese players involved and having a say at both ends of the tables in their respective competitions.
Yesterday also saw the signing by Aston Villa of Oscar Borg who was previously with West Ham’s youth sides. Although UK-born, Borg is of Maltese heritage and eligible to represent the country’s national sides.
Luke Gambin (Barnet – England)
Having started on the bench for Barnet on Good Friday, Luke Gambin returned to the starting XI today for the visit of Luton Town in League Two action.
It was to prove a good afternoon for the would be Malta winger as his 49th minute goal set the Bees on their way to a valuable three points in the chase for a play-offs place. A low drive from outside the box meant Gambin had his 4th goal of the season. Despite a late equaliser for Luton, 5 minutes from time, Barnet sealed all 3 points 6 minutes into injury time.
Barnet stay in 15th position but are now 4 points clear of Crawley in 16th. The Bees have also narrowed the gap to 7th place Wycombe Wanderers to just 10 points. With 7 games to play this season, it’s a tough ask for the North Londoner’s to make the play-offs but they are still mathematically alive.
Today was Gambin’s 41st appearance of the 2016-17 campaign.
Sam Magri (Dover Athletic – England)
Fresh from a 5-0 win over Torquay United on Saturday, Dover Athletic travelled to Hertfordshire on Easter Monday to take on National League newcomers, Boreham Wood.
Beginning the day in 4th position, the Whites were full of confidence to take on a struggling Boreham Wood side battling relegation. Unfortunately, this game didn’t follow the script and Wood ran out impressive 3-0 winners. It means that Dover have now slipped to 5th, below Tranmere Rovers.
Malta Under-21 defender, Sam Magri, made his 36th league appearance of the season in his customary right-back role. Once again he played a full 90 minutes and will not be involved for the Under-21’s when they take on Czech Republic Under-21’s at Ta’Qali tomorrow evening. Kick-off is 18:00 (Malta) / 17:00 (UK).
Manny Muscat (Wellington Phoenix – Australia / New Zealand)
Proving that he is ever Mr Versatile, Manny Muscat played a full 90 minutes for Wellington Phoenix at Melbourne City today. In a twist of irony, the Melburnians are the club that Muscat has signed a contract to join next season.
With the Phoenix mathematically out of the chase for the play-offs, they were playing for pride but were unfortunately on the wrong end of a 3-0 beating which keeps them in 9th place of the 10-team Hyundai A-League. And this game saw the Malta international start at left-back, away from his usual right-back role.
Overall, Manny Muscat has made 23 appearances for the Phoenix this season and started this game alongside another player of Maltese heritage, Vince Lia, who played in the centre of midfield. Lia, also born in Melbourne, represented Australia up to Under-23 level but never made a senior appearance. He was previously contacted by the Malta FA in 2009 but was not able to represent the country’s national side.
The Phoenix now have two more games left of the campaign, both at home. Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers will be the visitors to the New Zealand capital.
by Paul Gellard