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The preliminary round of the 2013/14 GFA Cup threw up a high level clash between the two teams sharing second place in the league. The conditions at Sannat ground were difficult with water sitting on the pitch and the wind getting stronger as the game went on.

The game began in a balanced fashion with both sides getting to grips with the conditions. Xewkija opened the scoring from a corner which was driven in low and hard. The ball was deflected into the net at the first post, and Xewkija held on to half time to go in with a 1-0 lead.

Having played extra time in a very tough game in Malta midweek, many observers may have expected S.K. to wilt in the second half, but this was not to be. There is great fighting spirit in this team and although playing into an increasing wind, we leveled the score through a nice move and calm finish by Ajibade Adesina.

As the half went on, we were increasingly forced to play on the break as Xewkija used the strong winds to keep us pressed in our half. But an excellent counter-attack saw us get down the right flank and a driven cross was brilliantly dispatched by Joseph Vella to give us the lead.

Xewkija responded by pushing more men forward in search of the equaliser that would keep them in the competition. After hitting the post, the pressure finally paid off in the third minute of injury time when a hopeful ball into the box was misjudged by the goalkeeper and ended up in the net.

In extra time, the blues responded from the disappointment and again took the lead. A succession of corners put pressure on the Xewkija defense and Eric Chidi took his chance to give us a 3-2 lead.

Again Xewkija came back and again forced an equaliser late in extra time, when the referee awarded a penalty for a clash in the area. Dene Shields scored the spot kick making the score 3-3 after extra time.

Many would think that the momentum was now with Xewkija who had twice come back from the dead. The penalty shoot-out was not a good one for the goalkeepers as both teams scored all 5 of the initial kicks. After Chris Sciortino scored the 6th penalty for S.K., Xewkija finally succumbed as Simon Agius made the save, taking us into the next round against Kercem, next Sunday.

Huge praise must go to the players who played two very long matches in 4 days and stayed focused to produce 2 excellent results against top opposition.

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