Floriana and Birkirkara earned a point each as they shared the spoils in a goalless draw in the second match from the Euro Cup on Monday.
Birkirkara will now meet Valletta in the third and final match on Thursday. A draw would be enough for the Citizens to win this first honour of the season while a win is a must for the Stripes.
New Birkirkara coach Patrick Curmi could count on five new foreigners, namely goalkeeper Jorge Mora, former Hibernians defender Matt Clarke, Italian striker Jacopo Camilli, Argentine forward Victor Rena and Latvian defender Marcis Savinovs. Rena and Savinovs were included as substitutes together with former Hibernians and Vittoriosa midfielder Leighton Grech. Alan Tabone was back after a five-month loan spell with Vittoriosa Stars. Missing from last season’s squad were foreigners Michael Fraser, Nikola Vukanac, Rodolfo Kumbrevicius and Ibrahim Babatunde who were not retained, Emiliano Lattes and Shaun Bajada.
Floriana coach Michael Woods made only one change from the team which lost to Valletta as Ryan Darmanin replaced Salvatore Amirante who went for a trial in Holland.
The Stripes had a fine start going close to taking the lead on the 6th when Paul Fenech released Trevor Cilia on the right and the latter’s rising shot hit the crossbar with Matthew Towns beaten. Camilli then missed a good opportunity, hitting high from close range following an inviting cross by Trevor Cilia on 17 minutes.
Trevor Cilia was unlucky to hit the crossbar once again with a crosshot from the right on 31 minutes.
In an isolated attack for Floriana, L’Imam Seydi had a shot from the left blocked by goalkeeper Jorge Mora four minutes in the second half.
The two teams now started to share the exchanges with the two goalkeepers hardly being tested.
One minute from time, Birkirkara could have notched the winner but off Leighton Grech’s cross from the right, Trevor Cilia hit just wide.
FLORIANA Matthew Towns, Duncan Pisani, Owen Bugeja, Tyrone Farrugia, Manolito Micallef, Clyde Borg, Joseph Borg, Christian Caruana (82’ Mauro Grioli), Ryan Darmanin, John Hardiker, L’Imam Seydi.
Subs not used: John Agius, Ivan Woods, Jermain Brincat, Mark Anthony Borg, Russell Marmara, Alan Abela.
Coach: Michael Woods
B’KARA Jorge Mora, Andrei Agius, Paul Fenech, Trevor Cilia, Alan Tabone, Andrew Decesare (58’ Leighton Grech), Matt Clarke (78’ Marcis Savinovs), Joseph Zerafa, Angus Buhagiar, Jacopo Camilli (66’ Victor Rena), Rowen Muscat.
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Ryan Scicluna, Terrence Vella, Andrew Scicluna.
Coach: Patrick Curmi
Assistant Coach: Peter Pullicino
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: J. Zerafa, A. Buhagiar, D. Pisani, C. Caruana