The cautious start by both teams did not herald the exciting finale which this game offered. After both sides missed a chance each by the tenth minute, Qormi won two penalty corners a couple of minutes later but were denied by The LightShop Hotsticks custodian Emile Borg. The contest then settled into a midfield ding dong battle with little action inside the D until the 31st minute when Lukas Plaehn saved the day for Hotsticks diving full length to clear the ball off the line with his goalkeeper beaten. Hotsticks countered immediately and from a penalty corner action Qormi’s young keeper, Shamison Mifsud affected a great diving save to keep the score goalless as the half time whistle sounded.
Both teams missed a couple of sitters at the start of the second half but The LightShop Hotsticks broke the deadlock in the 40th minute when Julian Zahra dived full length to meet a cross from the left sending Hotsticks into a 1–0 lead. Qormi countered but did not avail themselves of another penalty corner opportunity. The game now flowed from end to end with both teams throwing penalty corners to the wind around the 50 minute mark. Qormi then drew level three minutes later when Juan Sarcia picked his spot in yet another penalty corner action. Hotsticks were denied victory when Shamison Mifsud, Qormi’s keeper, affected a double save in the 59th minute the full time whistle blowing with the score level at 1–1.
No one could envisage the excitement extra time would provide for the numerous spectators present. Qormi won a penalty corner in the 4th minute of the first period and Keith Calleja pushed home ending a prolonged action inside the D to send his team into a 2–1 lead. With three minutes to go in the second period of extra time, Hotsticks won a penalty corner and Steve Portelli pushed home to bring his side level at 2-2. A minute later Hotsticks were awarded another penalty corner and Portelli hit a tremendous drive into the top corner of the net to shoot his team 3–2 ahead. At the death Qormi were awarded a penalty corner of their own but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity afforded and the final whistle sounded with Hotsticks running out 3–2 winners in a highly enthralling encounter. The season has definitely started with bang!!
Umpires: James Mizzi & Raymond Micallef