Leaders Qormi and champions Hibernians shared the spoils in a highly entertaining 2-2 draw. A draw which leaves Qormi three points ahead of second-placed Birkirkara, who however have a game in hand.
Qormi had two players making their debut – Matthew Bartolo and Stefan Giglio who joined the club on loan from Sliema and Valletta respectively while Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo was back after missing the last two matches. Joseph Farrugia and Steve Meilak were unavailable. On the other hand, missing for the Paolites was Christian Callejas.
Qormi had the first shot at goal on 10 minutes with Massimo Grima testing Mario Muscat with a direct freekick. On the other side of the pitch, seven minutes later, Aaron Xuereb tried his luck with an attempt from the right following an Andrew Cohen corner. Two minutes later, Camilo exchanged the ball with Alfred Effiong but heh former’s attempt was blocked by the Hibs custodian.
On 21 minutes, a shot by Andrew Cohen from the edge of the area following some good work by Etienne Barbara was neutralised by Matthew Farrugia. Two minutes later, Barbara had a shot from outside the area neutralised by the Qormi custodian.
Qormi managed to take the lead on 23 minutes when off a pass by Stefan Giglio, Alfred Effiong controlled the ball anticipating Mario Muscat with a low shot.
The Paolites replied with an Aaron Xuereb header, off an Andrew Cohen corner, which was cleared off the goalline by Keith Fenech on 33 minutes.
Hibernians levelled matters on 34 minutes thanks to Etienne Barbara who concluded a great solo effort, in which he rounded a couple of defenders, with a diagonal shot which beat Farrugia.
The Yellows went close to regaining the lead with a close-range effort by Alfred Effiong which scraped past the post on 35 minutes and less than a minute later, Andrew Cohen had a shot from outside the area saved by the Qormi goalkeeper.
The two teams continued to share the exchanges after the break. On 68 minutes, both sides were reduced to ten men after referee Alan Mario Sant sent off Etienne Barbara and Keith Fenech following an incident between the two players.
On 78 minutes, Qormi were awarded a penalty after Alfred Effiong was brought down inside the area by Mario Muscat. From the penalty spot, Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo converted to make it 2-1. For Camilo, this was the seventeenth goal in nine matches.
However four minutes from time, Hibs notched the equaliser when off a pass by substitute Triston Caruana, Andrew Cohen managed to beat Matthew Farrugia with a fine shot from inside the area.
Alfred Effiong was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Jonathan Caruana, Edward Herrera, Adrian Pulis, Aaron Xuereb (83′ Ben Camilleri), Jonathan Pearson (46′ Chris Camilleri), Rumen Galabov, Olegs Malasenoks, Andrew Cohen, Etienne Barbara, Ryan Camilleri (72′ Triston Caruana).
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Elkien Cauchi, Yan Cauchi, Kevin Cassar.
Coach: Mark Miller Asst. Coach: Edmond Lufi.
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Ramon Dos Santos, Jonathan Bondin, Stephen Wellman, Roderick Sammut, Stefan Giglio, Massimo Grima, Keith Fenech, Matthew Bartolo (72′ Ryan Deguara), Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo (80′ Kenneth Spiteri), Alfred Effiong.
Subs not used: Jurgen Cilia, George Chircop, Malcolm Buttigieg, Jurgen Stanyer, Gabriel Buttigieg.
Coach: Vince Carbonaro Team Manager: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: J. Caruana, K. Fenech, A. Effiong
Red Cards: E. Barbara, K. Fenech