Balzan extended their positive run as they registered their third successive, beating Sliema Wanderers 1-0.
A win which puts Ivan Zammit’s side in joint-sixth place, three points behind the Blues. For Sliema, this was a highly disappointing result, considering that they were coming from an impressive 4-0 win over Hibernians in their last outing.
The Wanderers lacked Henry Bonello and Mark Scerri while Matthew Camilleri, Jonathan Francica and Malcolm Licari were missing for Balzan. Replacing Bonello was Glenn Zammit who was making his debut in the Sliema shirt.
Sliema held the initiative in the early stages but Balzan managed to break the deadlock in their first attempt at goal on the 10th minute as Christian Caruana, served by Pedro Calcado, managed to beat Glenn Zammit with a fine rising shot from the edge of the area.
Seven minutes later, Balzan went close again with a Rennie Forace effort which was blocked by Zammit following a pass by Calcado. Sliema replied with a long-distance shot by Paltemio Barbetti ending just over the bar four minutes from the end of the first half. In added time, a Jamie Pace effort was neutralised by the Sliema goalkeeper.
On the hour, off a corner from the left by Pedrinho, Jamie Pace headed he ball down and Christian Caruana’s close-range effort was parried by Glenn Zammit. The Sliema custodian then performed a good save on a freekick by Calcado.
Balzan were reduced to ten men on 68 minutes after Jamie Pace collected a second yellow card and was therefore sent off by referee Esther Azzopardi.
Alex Muscat was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a long-distance shot on the 81st minute.
Christian Caruana was voted BOV Player of the Match.
BALZAN Fredrick Tabone, Matthew Mendy, Yessous Camilleri, Renato Garcia Conceicao, Stefan Giglio, Rennie Forace, Dylan Grima, Jamie Pace, Pedro dos Santos Calcado (91′ Martin Deanov), Christian Caruana (69’ Bjorn Bondin), Elton Alexandre da Silva (93′ Aaron Agius).
Subs not used: Mikhail Sciberras, Cruyff Grixti, Michael Borg, Clint Micallef.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Alex Muscat, Paltemio Barbetti (89′ Diego Ortega), John Mintoff (76’ Miguel Ciantar), Andrew Decesare, Luigi Ruggiero, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ivan Woods, Matias Muchardi (51’ Ariel Laudisi), Beppe Muscat, Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Keane Cutajar, Luca Martinelli, Alain Faccini, Josef Mifsud, Miguel Ciantar.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Asst. Coach: Jo Jo Bajada
Referee: Esther Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Alex Grech
Fourth Official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: Calcado, Grima, Muchardi, Pace, B. Muscat, Mendy, Woods
Red Cards: 68’ Pace
Scorers: 10’ Christian Caruana
Hamrun Spartans returned to winning ways as they came back from one goal down to beat Birkirkara 3-1. A win which puts the Spartans in joint-sixth place.
For Birkirkara, this was the second defeat in as many matches at the Victor Tedesco Stadium – a rather disappointing result after the draw with Valletta in their last outing.
The Stripes lacked Ryan Scicluna and Joselito dos Reis while Hamrun were in full strength.
Birkirkara were awarded a penalty after just eleven minutes when Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza was brought down inside the area by Roderick Fenech. Harun Shola Shodiya’s first attempt from the penalty spot was partially saved by goalkeeper Andrea Cassar but the referee ordered a re-take as several players had entered the penalty area. In his second attempt, the Nigerian striker fired the ball home.
Hamrun replied with a David Camilleri effort on the 21st minute which hit the crossbar but five minutes later, they were not to be denied as off a cross by Angel Yoshev, a header by Vergilov was partially saved by Reuben Gauci and off the rebound, Terence Vella controlled the ball before beating the Birkirkara custodian with a fine shot.
Eight minutes in the second half, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza went close for Birkirkara with a shot from outside the area ending just over the bar.
Hamrun were awarded a penalty after a defender handled the ball inside the area. From the penalty spot, Massimo Grima converted to put the Spartans 2-1 ahead on 56 minutes.
The Stripes were reduced to ten men on 63 minutes as referee Alan Mario Sant sent off Paul Fenech apparently for passing remarks in his direction.
Birkirkara still maintained the Hamrun defence under pressure and Shola Shodiya went close with a powerful shot from outside the area which was deflected into a corner by a defender.
On 75 minutes, the Stripes were awarded a penalty after David Camilleri floored Edward Herrera inside the area. However Shola Shodiya’s effort was turned into a corner in style by Andrea Cassar.
From the resulting corner by Jhonnattann from the left, Rowen Muscat headed the ball just wide.
In the remaining minutes, Birkirkara tried hard to notch the equaliser but the Spartans defended well.
Deep into stoppage time, Hamrun scored the third goal when off a swift counter-attack by Gianluca Calabretta, he beat goalkeeper Reuben Gauci on the run and served the unmarked Terence Vella who placed the ball at the back of the net.
Andrea Cassar was voted BOV Player of the Match.
B’KARA Reuben Gauci, Zach Muscat (59’ Ryan Camenzuli), Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Joseph Zerafa, Rowen Muscat, Paul Fenech, Gareth Sciberras, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Harun Shola Shodiya, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Edward Herrera.
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Godwin Mackay, Nikola Vukanac, David Spiteri, Antoine Borg, Kurt Zammit
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
HAMRUN Andrea Cassar, Daniel Zerafa (76’ Ryan Spiteri), Massimo Grima, Terence Vella, Gianluca Calabretta, Adrian Ivanov, Roderick Fenech, Lyubomir Vitanov, Angel Yoshev, Anton Vergilov, David Camilleri (82’ Luke Grech).
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Adrian Borg, Nikolay Bozhov, Gianluca Debattista, Christian Cassar.
Coach: Stefan Sultana
Asst. Coach: Atanas Marinov
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Calabretta, Vitanov, Grima, Muscat, Fenech, Camilleri
Red Cards: 63’ Paul Fenech
Scorers: 12′ Harun Shola Shodiya pen (B); 26′ Terence Vella (H); 56′ Massimo Grima pen (H); 90+4′ Terence Vella (H)