Despite failing to impress, Floriana returned to winning ways as they defeated nine-man Hamrun Spartans 2-1 in a match characterised by rough tackles, yellow cards and a controversial finale with a fan entered the field of play.
Following a quiet start, the Greens managed to take the lead in their first scoring opportunity but from then onwards, the Spartans held the initiative even after they had a first player sent off. They notched the equaliser but a penalty and another red card sank Steve D’Amato’s side. For Hamrun, this was the second successive defeat after two wins in their first two outings.
For Floriana, Kiril Dzhorov was back after serving a one-match ban. Brian Said made his first appearance for the Greens this season after recovering from an injury. Duncan Pisani and Sacha Borg were missing while Pablo Doffo and Ryan Darmanin started the game on the bench. Hamrun, on the other hand, had no changes from the team which lost to Sliema in their last outing.
Floriana took the lead on 16 minutes when off a cross from the left by Joseph Borg, Christian Caruana headed home past goalkeeper Ivan Casha.
On 31 minutes, following a through pass by Michael Mecerod, Ivan Casha reached the ball before Ivan Woods could conclude. A minute later, a Massimo Grima freekick was turned into a corner by Lofti Saidi.
The Spartans were reduced to ten men on 34 minutes when Martin Hrubsa received a second yellow card for a rough tackle on Kiril Dzhorov. The Bulgarian midfielder, in fact, had to leave the pitch injured.
Hamrun levelled matters two minutes in the second half when substitute Lee James Agius sent Dene Shields through and the Scottish striker rounded a defender and beat Saidi with an angled shot from the right.
However on 56 minutes, Michael Mecerod served Ivan Woods inside the area with the latter being brought down by Steve Bonnici. Referee Kevin Azzopardi ordered a penalty and sent off the Hamrun defender. From the penalty spot, Ivan Woods made no mistake to make it 2-1.
On 66 minutes, Marcelo Pereira served Dene Shields from the right but the latter’s close-range shot was parried by Saidi. Five minutes later, a cross shot by Pablo Doffo from the right ended just over the bar. Woods then hit high from the edge of the area after being served by Christian Caruana from the right.
Five minutes from the end of the first half, Ryan Fenech ended on the ground following an incident with Owen Bugeja. The latter was only cautioned among protests by the Hamrun players and supporters. One supporter managed to enter the field but he was restrained to the ground by Hamrun captain Rupert Mangion.
Dene Shields was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HAMRUN Ivan Casha, Massimo Grima, Rupert Mangion (59’ Karl Magro), Roderick Fenech, Dene Shields, Ryan Fenech, Marcelo Pereira, Gaetan Spiteri (36’ Steve Bonnici), Jovan Vukanic (46’ Lee James Agius), Martin Hrubsa, David Camilleri.
Subs not used: Omar Borg, Mark Anthony Bonnici, Craig Debattista, Glenn Azzopardi.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Assistant Coach: Marco Grech
FLORIANA Lofti Saidi, Owen Bugeja, Brian Said, Ivailo Sokolov, Kiril Dzhorov (39’ Pablo Doffo), Manolito Micallef, Christian Caruana (90’ Christian Cassar), Michael Mecerod, Ivan Woods, Joseph Borg (58’ Clyde Borg), Tyrone Farrugia.
Subs not used: Jurgen Micallef, Ryan Darmanin, Luke Agius, Mark Gauci.
Coach: Michael Woods
Team Manager: Todor Raykov
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Hrubsa, Dzhorov, J. Borg, C. Borg, Shields, Bugeja, Agius, Ryan Fenech
Red Cards: 34’ Hrubsa, 57’ Bonnici
Scorers: 16’ Christian Caruana (F); 47’ Dene Shields (H); 57’ Ivan Woods pen (F)
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