Balzan Youths and Sliema Wanderers shared the spoils in an entertaining 3-3 draw despite the Blues played for over half an hour in nine men after having two players sent off.
The two teams therefore earned their first point in the Championship Pool. Sliema therefore stay two points ahead of the Youths.
The Wanderers welcomed back captain Mark Scerri but lacked the suspended Ryan Grech and the injured Alex Muscat, Josef Mifsud and Beppe Muscat. Goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri, Anthony Eviparker, Bledjon Guga and Nikola Tasic.
Sliema created the first goal scoring opportunity on 26 minutes with Cleavon Frendo serving Anicet Eyenga but the latter’s effort was blocked by Francica.
The Wanderers were reduced to ten men on 38 minutes after Anicet Eyenga was sent off by referee Chris Lautier after hitting an opponent.
Seven minutes later, Balzan took the lead when a Pedro dos Santos Calcado freekick was partially saved by Bonello and Rennie Forace tapped the ball home from close range.
Nikola Bogdanovic went close to equalising on 52 minutes with a shot from outside the area ending just over the bar.
Five minutes later, Sliema had a second player sent off as Mark Scerri picked a second yellow card for a foul on Jamie Pace.
However the Wanderers ironically levelled matters on 61 minutes. A Nikola Bogdanovic effort was partially saved by Fredrick Tabone, the ball reached Trevor Cilia whose shot was not held by the Balzan custodian who allowed the ball to slip under his body.
In a swift counter-attack for Sliema, Deyanov served Dylan Grima on the right and the latter’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked by Henry Bonello.
Balzan regained the lead on 68 minutes when Clifton Ciantar released substitute Lydon Micallef on the left and off the latter’s pass, Pedro dos Santos Calcado slid the ball from under Bonello.
Six minutes from time, the Wanderers were awarded a penalty after Trevor Cilia was brought down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Emiliano Lattes made no mistake to equalise.
However one minute later, Balzan regained the lead as Pedro dos Santos Calcado concluded a solo effort on the left flank by rounding a defender and hitting low past Henry Bonello.
Sliema, however, levelled matters once again on the 90th when off a Trevor Cilia freekick, Ryan Fenech served Nikola Bogdanovic who hit home past Tabone.
Pedro dos Santos Calcado was voted BOV Player of the Match.
BALZAN Fredrick Tabone, Yessous Camilleri, Clifton Ciantar, Dylan Grima (88′ Glenn Bonello), Jonathan Francica, Rennie Forace, Jamie Pace, Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Martin Deyanov, Bjorn Deanov, Bjorn Bondin (63′ Lydon Micallef), Miguel Ciantar (70′ Silvan Ciscaldi).
Subs not used: Jacob Cipriott, Roderick Farrugia, Michael Borg, Matthew Cassar.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Anicet Eyenga, Danial Mitev (46′ Nikola Bogdanovic), Steve Bezzina, Cliford Gatt Baldacchino, Ryan Fenech, Andrew Caligari (46′ Trevor Cilia), Rumen Galabov, Cleavon Frendo (75′ Jeremiah Ani), Emiliano Lattes, Mark Scerri.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Dejan Vukovic, Ryan Dalli.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Asst. Coach: Saviour Debono Grech
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Mariano Debono, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: C. Ciantar, Grima, Fenech, Calcado, M. Ciantar, Scerri, Tabone, Galabov, Francica, Pace
Red Cards: 38′ Anicet Eyenga, 57′ Mark Scerri
Scorers: 43′ Rennie Forace (B); 61′ Trevor Cilia (S); 68′ Pedro dos Santos Calcado (B); 85′ Emiliano Lattes pen (S); 86′ Pedro dos Santos Calcado (B); 90′ Nikola Bogdanovic (S)
Meanwhile Mqabba collected three precious points as they defeated Mosta 1-0. Three points which put Clive Mizzi’s side on level points with the Blues, one behind Hamrun Spartans.
For Mosta, this was yet another disappointing result after being held in a draw by Hamrun last week, throwing away a two-goal lead.
Mosta lacked Kurt Magro but welcomed back Ian Zammit and Florent Raimy while Dyson Falzon returned to the starting line-up after recovering from an injury. Mqabba, on the other hand, were in full strength.
The Reds held the initiative during the first half but goal mouth action was rare with the best chance occurring on the 40th with a John Nwoba header cleared off the goal line by Raimy following a Claudio Calleja corner.
However three minutes from half-time, Mqabba managed to take the lead when off a David Fenech corner, John Nwoba headed the ball home.
Dyson Falzon tried his luck for Mosta with a long-distance shot on 67 minutes which ended just wide. Mqabba replied with Claudio Calleja cross shot which was turned into a corner by Jonathan Debono three minutes later.
On the 80th, Florent Raimy headed just wide off a Dyson Falzon corner.
John Nwoba was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MQABBA Kris Calleja, Pierre Grima, Marko Potezica, Branislav Timotic, Mark Anthony Psaila, Claudio Calleja, Julian Briffa, Mauro Bonnici, David Fenech, John Nwoba, Bojan Mamic (71′ Thiago dos Santos Mazzitelli).
Subs not used: Franklin Azzopardi, Marlon Briffa, David Azzopardi, John Paul Muscat, Ryan Sammut, Clayton Micallef.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Asst. Coach: Renzo Kerr Cumbo
MOSTA Jonathan Debono, Adrian Borg, Kane Farrugia (71′ Gilbert Martin), Federico Tisbi, Yannick Ossok, Sheldon Grech (85′ Terence Vella), Florent Raimy, Dyson Falzon, Firas Aboulezz (60′ Jonathan Bajada), Ian Zammit, Obinna Obiefule.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Luca Martinelli, Alex Cini, Predrag Mirceta.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Edward Spiteri
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Falzon, Nwoba, J. Briffa, Bajada, Potezica, Martin
Scorers: 42′ John Nwoba