Birkirkara joined Qormi on top the BOV Premier League table thanks to a 2-0 win over bottom-placed Dingli Swallows.
The Stripes lacked Shaun Bajada, George Mallia and Angus Buhagiar while Andre Rocha Da Silva and Renato Conceicao were back after serving a one-match ban.
Following a quiet start, the Stripes had the first attempt at goal with Trevor Cilia hitting wide from an ideal position inside the area on 9 minutes.
Birkirkara managed to take the lead on 13 minutes when a cross shot by Michael Galea was not held by Jeffrey Farrugia and off the rebound, Sylvano Comvalius placed the ball at the back of the net.
Dingli replied with a Joseph Okonkwo header which was parried by Jorge Mora on the 20th minute. Three minutes later, Michael Galea headed just over the bar following a cross from the right by Cilia.
The Swallows were unlucky not to equalise on 39 minutes when Haruna Doda released Andre Rocha Da Silva on the right but the latter’s effort hit the crossbar.
Jeffrey Farrugia performed a fine save on a Joseph Zerafa effort into a corner on 67 minutes.
Two minutes from time, Birkirkara doubled the score when Michael Galea served Sylvano Comvalius on the left and the latter controlled before hitting low past Farrugia
Paul Fenech was voted BOV Player of the Match.
B’KARA Jorge Mora, Trevor Cilia, Nikola Vukanac, Branko Nisevic, Thomas Paris, Alan Tabone (79′ Karl Pulo), Rowen Muscat, Joseph Zerafa (88′ Michael Camilleri), Paul Fenech, Michael Galea, Sylvano Comvalius (91′ Ryan Scicluna).
Subs not used: Omar Borg, Andrew Scicluna, Andreas Galea, Massimo Chircop.
DINGLI Jeffrey Farrugia, Roderick Briffa, Renato Conceicao (38′ Roderick Spiteri), Shawn Tellus, Kurt Formosa, Christian Muscat, Dino Cachia (32′ Haruna Doda), Kevin Borg, Matthew Borg, Andre Rocha Da Silva (76′ Dylan Zarb), Joseph Okonkwo.
Subs not used: Ivan Cassar, Clint Caruana, Charlon Sammut, Etienne Farrugia.
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Joe Camilleri, Gordon Barbara
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Zerafa, Briffa
Meanwhile in the second game, Valletta returned to victory thanks to a narrow win over Msida St. Joseph. The Citizens now lie two points behind joint-leaders Birkirkara and Qormi.
Valletta lacked captain Gilbert Agius as he serves a two-match ban and Declan O’Brien. Adrian Farrugia and Zoran Levnaic were missing for Msida. The Saints had coach Keith Gouder making his debut. Gouder replaced Mark Marlow after the latter handed his resignation earlier this week.
The Citizens took the lead on the 20th minute when off a pass by Njongo Priso from the left, Terence Scerri beat goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo before the ball hit the upright before ending at the back of the net.
Msida replied with a Miguel Ciantar effort which was neutralised by Hogg on 26 minutes. Just before the end of the first half, a rising shot by Luke Dimech scraped past the post.
On 58 minutes, Lydon Micallef came to the rescue, clearing the ball into safety before Njongo Priso could conclude after Terence Scerri had anticipated Manuel Bartolo. On the other side of the pitch, a Tyrone Farrugia effort hit the foot of the post and off the rebound, Windell Gabriels had a good cross cleared of the goal line by Luke Dimech. On 61 minute, Kevin Sammut sent Scerri through but the latter’s effort was blocked by Bartolo.
Njongo Priso concluded a good solo effort with a shot from the edge of the area ending just wide on 72 minutes and a minute later, Cleavon Frendo served Terence Scerri whose weak shot was neutralise by the Msida goalkeeeper.
Njongo Priso was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MSIDA Manuel Bartolo, Cedric Sciberras, Adam Spiteri (80′ Joseph Damato), Kevin Mifsud, Windell Gabriels (87′ Andrew Formosa), Emiliano Lattes, Roderick Baldacchino, Lydon Micallef, Miguel Ciantar, Tyrone Farrugia, Matthew Borda.
Subs not used: Gallen Mifsud, Larson Agius, Karl Ebejer, Iro Curmi, Luke Saliba.
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Roderick Briffa (11′ Cleavon Frendo)(83′ Dylan Grima), Steve Bezzina, Kenneth Scicluna, Luke Dimech, Edmond Agius, Njongo Priso Doding, Kevin Sammut (88′ Dyson Falzon) Jamie Pace, Terence Scerri, Steve Borg.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Matthew Caruana, Yessous Camilleri, Tonio Mackay.
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Konrad Borg, Mario Apap
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Sciberras, Frendo, Scicluna, Farrugia, Falzon, Micallef