Hamrun Spartans scored two goals in the final six minutes to earn a point in a 2-2 draw with Mosta and maintain a one-point lead over the Blues.
For Mosta, this was definitely a most disappointing result as they held the initiative for long stretches and seemed heading towards a comfortable win which would have put them two points ahead of the Spartans.
Goalkeeper Omar Borg was missing for Hamrun as he was serving a one-match ban. However Gaetan Spiteri was back for the Spartans after serving a four-game ban. Mosta lacked the suspended Gilbert Martin.
The Blues took the lead on 15 minutes when a fierce shot by Jonathan Bajada was partially saved by Andrea Cassar and off the rebound, Obinna Obiefule placed the back of the net from close range.
The Spartans replied with a Massimo Grima freekick from the left ending just wide on 26 minutes. Two minutes later, Mosta were unlucky not to double the score when off a cross by Ian Zammit, the ball fell at the feet of Obinna Obiefule whose low shot hit the foot of the upright with Debono beaten.
A shot from the left by Ian Zammit was turned into a corner by the Hamrun custodian on 31 minutes. Six minutes later, a Steve Bonnici header just missed the target off a Massimo Grima freekick.
Two minutes in the second half, Obiefule was unlucky to hit the upright with a powerful shot from the right following a good run on the right flank. Then on the 61st minute, it was Hamrun’s turn to hit the upright when Anderson Mendes Ribeiro, served by Shields, hit the woodwork with a fine overhead kick.
Mosta doubled the score on 66 minutes through Obinna Obiefule who concluded a good move on the left by rounding a defender and hitting past goalkeeper Andrea Cassar.
The Blues maintained the pressure and on 74 minutes, Ian Zammit released Jonathan Bajada who advanced into the area but his conclusion was blocked by Cassar. Obiefule hit high off the rebound. On the other side of the pitch, an Anderson Mendes Ribeiro effort hit the upright on 74 minutes. Then off a Kevin Sammut corner, Steve Bonnici’s header was cleared off the goal line by Kane Farrugia.
Six minutes from time, the Spartans were awarded a penalty after Gaetan Spiteri was brought down inside the area by Jonathan Debono. From the penalty spot, Dene Shields made no mistake.
But the game was not over yet as on the 88th minute, Kevin Sammut beat Debono with a rising shot from the edge of the area to level matters for Hamrun.
In added time, Bajada headed just wide off an Alex Cini cross from the right. Then deep into stoppage time, Mosta wasted a brilliant opportunity when Obiefule gained possession on the left flank and advanced into the area but rather than concluding, he served Ian Zammit but the latter’s goal was disallowed for an offside position.
Obinna Obiefule was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HAMRUN Andrea Cassar, Steve Bonnici, Massimo Grima, David Camilleri, Matthew Gauci, Rupert Mangion (64‘ Carlo Polli), Kevin Sammut, Gianluca Calabretta (70‘ Lee James Agius), Dene Shields, Gaetan Spiteri, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro.
Subs not used: Jean Claude Debattista, Ryan Spiteri, Ayrton Micallef, Luke Grech, Chris Cardona.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit
Asst. Coach: Vince Carbonaro
MOSTA Jonathan Debono, Adrian Borg, Kane Farrugia (80‘ Luca Martinelli), Federico Tisbi, Yannick Ossok, Florent Raimy, Alex Cini, Kurt Magro, Ian Zammit, Obinna Obiefule, Jonathan Bajada.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Pio Vassallo, Firas Aboulezz, Michel Bertrand Maki Mvondo, Wayne Sciberras, Nikola Bogdanovic
Coach: Steve D‘Amato
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Alex Grech
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Calabretta, A. Borg, Ribeiro, L. Agius, J. Debono
Scorers: 15’ Obinna Obiefule (M); 66’ Obinna Obiefule (M); 84′ Dene Shields pen (H); 88′ Kevin Sammut (H)
An early goal by Moises Avila Perez gave Birkirkara a narrow win over Marsaxlokk to move fourth on level points with Sliema Wanderers who however have a game in hand.
The Stripes were clearly a better side but they failed to turn their superiority into goals, mainly thanks to a fine performance by Marsaxlokk goalkeeper Christian Cassar.
For Marsaxlokk, this was the fifth successive defeat.
Two players were making their debut – Brazilian striker Jorge Santos Silva for Birkirkara and Serbian midfielder Nemanja Boskovic for Marsaxlokk. The Southseasiders lacked Clive Brincat, Sunday Eboh and Patrick Borg while Joseph Zerafa, Gareth Sciberras, Shola Shodiya and Terence Vella were missing for the Stripes.
Marsaxlokk had the first attempt at goal on the 4th minute when Craig Debattista released Gary Caruana on the left but the latter’s shot was turned into a corner by Reuben Gauci.
A minute later, the Stripes took the lead when off an Alan Tabone free kick, Moises Avila Perez headed home past Cassar.
On the 10th, the Spanish striker went close once again with a powerful shot from the edge of the area but the Marsaxlokk custodian turned the ball into a corner. Two minutes later, Gary Caruana hit the crossbar with a good header for Marsaxlokk off a Nemanja Stoskovic cross from the left.
Paul Fenech then served Alan Tabone on the left but the latter’s conclusion was deflected into a corner by Cassar on 21 minutes. Six minutes later, Birkirkara appealed for a penalty as Modesto Valeriani seemed to pull Jorge Santos Silva down inside the area.
Avila Perez hit just over the bar off a cross by Trevor Cilia from the left on 31 minutes. Five minutes later, a diagonal shot by Cilia from the right, served by Fenech, scraped past the post.
One minute in the second half, Shaun Bajada went close with a close-range header ending just wide off a Jorge Santos Silva cross from the left. On 57 minutes, Avila Perez concluded a good run on the left flank with a low shot which was neutralised by the Marsaxlokk goalkeeper.
The Stripes missed another good opportunity on 73 minutes through Leighton Grech who hit incredibly high when served by Santos Silva. Five minutes later, Christian Cassar performed a good save on an Alan Tabone close-range effort.
Six minutes from time, Moises Avila Perez missed another fine opportunity hitting just wide with an angled shot from the right.
Christian Cassar was voted BOV Player of the Match.
B’KARA Reuben Gauci, Paul Fenech, Ryan Calendula (64‘ Leighton Grech), Rodrigo Pereira, Shaun Bajada, Trevor Cilia (75’ Angus Buhagiar), Rowen Muscat, Ryan Scicluna, Alan Tabone (91‘ Michael Camilleri), Jorge Santos Silva, Moises Avila Perez.
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Andrew Decesare, Andre Cassar, Matthew Bugeja.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
M’XLOKK Christian Cassar, Modesto Valeriani, Craig Debattista, Sacha Borg (77‘ Stefan Cutajar), Jonathan Xerri, Kevin Polidano, Jean Paul Farrugia, Gary Caruana, Trevor Templeman, Darrell Grech (86‘ Manuel Caruana), Nemanja Stoskovic.
Subs not used: Christian Gafa, Darren Tabone, Dylan Attard, Paul Paris.
Coach: Anton Cremona
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: Scicluna, Templeman, Debattista
Scorers: 5’ Moises Avila Perez