A goal by Miguel Ciantar deep into stoppage time enabled Balzan Youths to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw with Floriana to maintain high hopes of securing a top-six finish.
The Greens seemed heading towards victory after taking a two-goal lead midway through the second half but the Youths had other ideas and after reducing the gap, they notched the equaliser in added time.
Balzan had no less than six changes from the team which lost to Birkirkara last week. They lacked Dylan Grima while Jonathan Francica and Pedro dos Santos Calcado were ruled out through suspension. Glenn Bonello, who joined the club on loan from St. George’s was making his debut.
Floriana, on the other hand, lacked Christian Cassar, Thomas Paris and Onome Sodje. Brazilian-born Alandson Jansen da Silva made his debut for the Greens when he was included as a substitute in the beginning of the second half.
The Greens took the lead on 25 minutes when off a Pablo Doffo freekick, Ivan Woods served Joseph Borg who flicked the ball in style past goalkeeper Fredrick Tabone.
Five minutes from the end of the first half, Lydon Micallef tested Manuel Bartolo with a fine shot from inside the area.
After receiving a through pass on the left, Andre Grabowski had a good shot from inside the area ending just wide on 57 minutes. An Alandson close-range effort was turned into a corner on 61 minutes. Seven minues later, a Martin Deyanov freekick was parried by Bartolo.
Floriana doubled the score on 71 minutes when off a John Mintoff cross from the right, debutante Alandson Jansen da Silva placed the ball at the back of the net from close range, anticipating Tabone.
Seven minutes later, Balzan pulled one back when off a Martin Deyanov corner, Miguel Ciantar hit home.
Floriana had to play for the remaining minutes in ten men as goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo was sent off immediately after the goal for hitting an opponent. Substitute goalkeeper Jurgen Borg replaced Ivan Woods.
Balzan defender Clifton Ciantar was also sent off two minutes from time after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Mintoff.
Four minutes in added time, the Youths levelled matters when Martin Deyanov released Miguel Ciantar on the right and the latter beat Jurgen Borg with a fine diagonal shot.
Pablo Doffo was voted BOV Player of the Match.
BALZAN Fredrick Tabone, Clifton Ciantar, Rennie Forace, Yessous Camilleri, Bledjon Guga, Jamie Pace, Bjorn Bondin (70′ Anthony Eviparker), Nikola Tasic, Glenn Bonello (84′ Michael Borg), Martin Deyanov, Lydon Micallef (77′ Miguel Ciantar).
Subs not used: Matthew Camilleri, Roderick Farrugia, Donovan Micallef, Daryl Martinelli.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
FLORIANA Manuel Bartolo, Eric Akoto, Owen Bugeja, Manolito Micallef, Duncan Pisani, Pablo Doffo, Joseph Borg, Ivan Woods (79′ Jurgen Borg gk), Malcolm Licari (46′ Alandson Jansen Da Silva), Andre Grabowski (66′ Christian Caruana), John Mintoff.
Subs not used: Ryan Darmanin, Alessio Restuccia, Francesco Guzman, Clyde Borg.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Frank Schembri
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Joe Camilleri
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: Akoto, Woods, Bonello, Bugeja, Ciantar, Pace, J. Borg, Tasic
Red Cards: 79′ Manuel Bartolo, 88′ Clifton Ciantar
Scorers: 25′ Joseph Borg (F); 71′ Alandson Jansen da Silva (B); 78′ Miguel Ciantar (B); 90+4 Miguel Ciantar (B)
Hibernians maintain the pressure over leaders Valletta as a narrow win over Mosta puts them once again just one point behind the Citizens.
For the Paolites, this was the fourth successive win while for Mosta, who remain joint-eighth on 20 points, are now condemned to playing in the Relegation Pool.
Hibernians lacked Clayton Failla and Peter Anizoba. Mosta, on the other hand, were a depleted side due to the absence of Dyson Falzon, Florent Raimy, Kurt Magro, Federico Tisbi, Firas Aboulezz and the suspended Adrian Borg and Ian Zammit.
The Paolites could have taken the lead on the 2nd minute when Tarabai provided Jackson Lima with a fine pass but the latter hit high.
Eight minutes later, Hibs forged ahead when off a cross by Edward Herrera, Andrew Cohen headed home past goalkeeper Jonathan Debono.
Mosta equalised on the 24th when off a cross by Gilbert Martin from the right, Obinna Obiefule slotted the ball past Mario Muscat.
Hibernians regained the lead five minutes from the end of the first half thanks to a great goal by Jackson Lima Siqueira whose long-distance shot gave Debono no chance.
After the break the two teams shared the exchanges for long streches and although the Blues tried their best to earn a point from the game, the Paolites managed to keep them at bay.
Andrew Cohen was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Edward Herrera, Jonathan Pearson, Aaron Xuereb, Rodolfo Soares, Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen, Steve Pisani, Jackson Di Lima Siqueira, Jason Vandelannoite, Edison Luis dos Santos (74′ Marcelo Dias).
Subs not used: Nicholas Grima, Dylan Sammut, Keith Tanti, Ayrton Azzopardi, Adrian Pulis, Scott Chircop.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Richard Mercieca
MOSTA Jonathan Debono, Kane Farrugia, Luca Martinelli, Yannick Ossok, Sheldon Grech, Alex Cinim, Jonathan Bajada, Predrag Mirceta, Gilbert Martin (72′ Terence Vella), Zakaria Kibona, Obinna Obiefule.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Bryan Agius, John Paul Grima, Pio Vassallo, Damian Delia, Wayne Sciberras.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Mariano Debono, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Farrugia, Kristensen, Martin, Mirceta, Pearson, Martinelli
Scorers: 10′ Andrew Cohen (H); 24′ Obinna Obiefule (M)