Saturday 14th May 2016 – Sliema Wanderers emerged winners of the FA Trophy for the 21st time in the history of the club after defeating Balzan 5 – 4 on penalties, in so doing, crushed Balzan’s hopes of claiming their first major honour.
Despite this win Sliema will not play in the European competitions as they did not obtain a UEFA Licence.
A tight final had ended in a goaless draw after 120 minutes but Sliema emerged on top in the penalty shoot-out after converting their five penalties while Balzan managed to scores four with captain Dylan Grima saw his shot blocked by Sliema goalkeeper, Entonjo Elezaj.
The final had offered little excitement as scoring chances were rare but Sliema managed to hold off Balzan despite having Njongo Priso sent off seven minutes before the end of normal time
In the early stages, Balzan goalkeeper Ivan Janjusevic came out off his line to head the ball away from Denni Dos Santos Rocha, as he tried to anticipate a long ball.
Latching on to another long pass, Njongo Priso had the better of Clive Brincat as the former Valletta winger drifted across the byline and into the box but Janjusevic snuffed out the danger.
In the 21st minute, a cross from Balzan’s Steve Bezzina turned into a goalbound attempt after taking a deflection off Alex Muscat with the ball coming off the outside of the near post. Kaljevic then rifled wide from Effiong’s assist.
Neither side managed to gain control but Balzan had a golden chance to take the lead in the 35th minute. A length raid had the Sliema goalkeeper on the back foot as Elkin Serrano released Lydon Micallef who had time and space to shoot from inside the box. The goalkeeper blocked Micallef’s first effort and his follow-up attempt was also stopped, this time by Stefano Bianciardi.
Another brilliant chance came Sliema’s way in the 39th minute as Doding Priso made his way into the box from the right but he was twice denied by Ivan Janjusevic.
A fluid move produced another chance for the Blues as Priso passed to Denni who pulled it back towards Muscat who swept into the box from the right only to curl his shot wide.
On the stoke of time Balzan should have scored as from a free kick taken by Justin Grioli Elkin Serrano headed wide from an ideal position inside the six-yard box.
In the 70th minute, off a cross by Alan Da Silva Souza, who came in for Bojan Kaljevic, In the 56th minute, Alfred Effiong who rifled wide.
Then two chances fell to Balzan but Alfred Effiong blasted high and Lydon Micallef’s low effort was stopped by goalkeeper Elezaj.
Seven minutes from time, Sliema finished with 10 men after Doding Priso earned two quick bookings for protests and was sent off.
In stoppage time, Sliema almost won it but Jean Paul Farrugia’s angled drive was wide.
In the extra time, Sliema defended well and kept the Balzan forwards under control and forced a penalty shoot-out to decide the issue.
In the Penalty shoot-out Paul Fenech took the first one and scored for Balzan, Mark Scerri followed and he transformed as well, then Elkin Serrano did not fail, Jean Paul Farrugia scored as well, Pedro Calcado scored as well, Armando Viera dos Santos made it 3 – 3, Alfred Effiong scores, Alex Muscat levelled matters, Dylan Grima was saved well by Entonjo Elezaj and Clifford Gatt Baldacchino score the winning penalty for Sliema, sending the Sliema fans into raptures as the Wanderers extended their record in the FA Trophy to 21 wins and, in so doing, crushed Balzan’s hopes of claiming their first major honour.