Birkirkara moved three points clear on top the BOV Premier League table thanks to a 2-1 win over Sliema Wanderers. Second-placed Valletta, however, have a game in hand.
For Sliema, this was the first league defeat since Mark Marlow took over as new coach and the second one after the National League 100 Anniversary Cup loss to First Division side Mosta.
The Stripes were a better side for most of the game, taking a well-deserved two-goal lead although the Wanderers were back in contention after reducing the gap late in the game.
The Blues lacked Alex Muscat and Ryan Fenech besides the injured Mark Scerri. Birkirkara, on the other hand, were in full strength.
After a quite start for the two teams, Sliema had the first serious scoring opportunity when Pedro Calcado had a close-range shot from the left blocked by goalkeeper Jorge Mora into a corner. On the half-hour, Trevor Cilia took advantage of a back-pass by Lucian Dronca but goalkeeper Simon Agius rushed out of the area to clear the ball into safety.
Birkirkara, however, managed to take the lead on 32 minutes when off a Shaun Bajada freekick from the right, Sylvano Comvalius slammed the ball past goalkeeper Simon Agius from the edge of the area.
The Stripes went close once again on 37 minutes with a direct freekick by Shaun Bajada from the right.
Three minutes in the second half, Pedro Calcado served Julio Alcorse on the right but the latter’s effort ended wide. A freekick by Calcado just missed the target on 57 minutes. Another freekick by the Brazilian striker seven minutes later was not held by Jorge Mora and following Branko Nisevic’s clearance, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza’s powerful drive ended wide.
On the other side of the pitch, Shaun Bajada had an attempt from close range blocked into a corner by the Sliema goalkeeper on 73 minutes.
Birkirkara doubled the score on 75 minutes when a shot by Paul Fenech was partially saved by Simon Agius and off the rebound, Trevor Cilia placed the ball at the back of the net.
Sliema replied with a cross-shot by Clifford Gatt Baldacchino which was tipped into a corner by Jorge Mora. A goal by Ivan Woods following an acrobatic shot by Lucian Dronca was disallowed for an offside.
The Blues pulled one back three minutes from time thanks to a goal by Ivan Woods whose low shot beat the Spanish goalkeeper when served by Pedro Calcado from the right.
The Stripes created another good scoring opportunity on the 90th with Trevor Cilia’s powerful shot being turned into a corner by the Sliema custodian.
Trevor Cilia was voted BOV Player of the Match.
B’KARA Jorge Mora, Thomas Paris (66’ Angus Buhagiar), Rowen Muscat, Nikola Vukanac (77’ Joseph Zerafa), Shaun Bajada, Branko Nisevic, Carlo Mamo, Trevor Cilia, Paul Fenech, Michael Galea, Sylvano Comvalius (84’ Alan Tabone).
Subs not used: Omar Borg, Andrew Scicluna, George Mallia, Karl Pulo.
Coach: Paul Zammit Asst. Coach: Mario Gatt
SLIEMA Simon Agius, Ian Azzopardi, Josef Mifsud, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ivan Woods, Lucian Dronca, Julio Cesar Alcorse, Pedro Dos Santos Calcado (89’ Ray Attard), John Mintoff (76’ Noel Turner), Clayton Failla (84’ Amadeo Mercieca).
Subs not used: Jeremy Alden, Luca Martinelli, Ian Ciantar, Andrew Agius.
Coach: Mark Marlow Team Manager: Rupert Perry
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Edward Spiteri
Fourth Official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: I. Woods, R. Muscat, P. Fenech, J. Mintoff, J. Mora, C. Mamo, J. Mifsud
Scorers: 32′ Sylvano Comvalius (B); 75′ Trevor Cilia (B); 87′ Ivan Woods (S)
Meanwhile in the second match, Hibernians returned to winning ways as they defeated Qormi 1-0. The Paolites move fourth, one point behind Qormi and two ahead of Sliema. For Qormi, this was the second successive defeat.
Both sides were unable to field their best formation due to the absence of Edward Herrera and Stephen Wellman who were both suspended.
Qormi went close after just 9 minutes when Alfred Effiong served Matthew Bartolo who entered the area from the right before hitting just over the bar.
The Paolites went close on 26 minutes when Andrew Cohen exchanged the ball with Etienne Barbara before trying his luck with a shot from the edge of the area which ended wide.
Hibernians, however, managed to take the lead on 33 minutes when off an Andrew Cohen freekick, Miguel Lopes De Pina headed home past goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia.
After the break, Hibs continued to hold the initiative and Andrew Cohen went close with a fine shot on 54 minutes which was blocked by the Qormi custodian. On the other side of the pitch, Qormi went close on 76 minutes a shot by Massimo Grima was blocked by goalkeeper Mario Muscat and off the rebound, substitute Steve Meilak’s effort was neutralised by the Hibs goalkeeper.
Andrew Cohen was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Jonathan Caruana, Adrian Pulis, Aaron Xuereb, Christian Callejas, Jonathan Pearson, Etienne Barbara, Andrew Cohen, Miguel Lopes De Pina (86′ Ben Camilleri), Elton Morelato (60’ Triston Caruana), Yan Cauchi.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Elkien Cauchi, Matthew Tabone, Chris Camilleri, Ndubisi Chukunyere.
Coach: Mark Miller Asst. Coach: Edmond Lufi
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Lucas Ramon Dos Santos, Roderick Sammut, Duncan Pisani, Jonathan Bondin, Massimo Grima, Joseph Farrugia (77’ Ryan Deguara), Matthew Bartolo (67’ Steve Meilak), Stefan Giglio (72’ Keith Fenech), Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo, Alfred Effiong.
Subs not used: Matthew Camilleri, Kenneth Spiteri, Malcolm Buttigieg, Gabriel Buttigieg..
Coach: Vince Carbonaro Team Manager: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Mariano Debono
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Y. Cauchi, E. Morelato, M. Grima, A. Effiong, M. Muscat
Scorers: 33’ Miguel Lopes De Pina
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