Rennie Forace scored three minutes from time to earn a point for Balzan as they held Birkirkara in a 2-2 draw. A draw which extended Balzan’s unbeaten run to eight matches and denied the Stripes the possibility of moving three points ahead of Valletta.
Birkirkara now lead the way one point ahead of the Citizens who have a game in hand. On the other hand, Balzan are now joint-fifth together with Mosta who face Valletta on Saturday.
Shola Shodiya and Joselito dos Reis were once again missing for Birkirkara while Balzan lacked Matthew Camilleri, Stefan Giglio, Yessous Camilleri and Aaron Agius. Rodrigo Pereira returned for the Stripes after re-joining the club this week.
Birkirkara could have taken the lead after just 50 seconds when off a Ryan Camenzuli corner, Zach Muscat’s goal-bound header was cleared off the goal-line by Renato Conceicao. Camenzuli then had a close-range effort blocked by Fredrick Tabone a few minutes later.
The Stripes forged ahead on the 15th when Jhonnattann served Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza from the right and the latter’s rising shot beat the Balzan goalkeeper. For MIfsud Triganza this was his hundredth goal.
However their joy was short-lived as three minutes later, Balzan restored equilibrium when a shot by Pedrinho was partially saved by Reuben Gauci and Elton Alexandre da Silva slammed the ball home off the rebound.
Mifsud Triganza went close once again with a cross shot from the left which was turned into a corner by the Balzan goalkeeper on the 20th. Six minutes later, a freekick by Jhonnnattann was turned into a corner by Tabone, aided by the upright. The Balzan custodian was prominent once again with a good save on a long-distance shot by Paul Fenech.
The Stripes regained the lead just before half-time when off a Jhonnattann corner from the right, Zach Muscat headed home.
Six minutes in the second half, a fierce shot by Martin Deyanov ended just wide for Balzan. On the other side of the pitch, off a corner by Camenzuli, Zach Muscat’s header was partially saved by Tabone and off the rebound, Mifsud Triganza headed high on 58 minutes.
Balzan notched the equaliser three minutes from time when off a cross by Jamie Pace from the right, Rennie Forace’s first-time diagonal shot from the left gave Reuben Gauci no chance.
Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao was voted BOV Player of the Match.
BIRKIRKARA Reuben Gauci, Nikola Vukanac, Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Jhonnattann da Conceicao, Ryan Camenzuli (68’ Edward Herrera), Rowen Muscat, Joseph Zerafa, Gareth Sciberras (77’ Rodrigo Pereira), Paul Fenech, Zach Muscat, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (84’ Ryan Scicluna).
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Antoine Borg, Kurt Zammit, Bernard Borg.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
BALZAN Fredrick Tabone, Jacob Dominico Borg, Rennie Forace, Renato Garcia Conceicao, Jamie Pace, Matthew Mendy, Bjorn Bondin (60’ Malcolm Licari), Dylan Grima, Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Martin Deyanov (66’ Christian Caruana), Elton Da Silva.
Subs not used: Michael Sciberras, Michael Borg, Jonathan Francica, Kevin Camilleri, Gianfranco Micallef.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Konrad Borg, Luke Portelli
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Mendy, Pedrinho, R. Muscat, G. Sciberras, C. Caruana, R. Pereira, J. Francica
Scorers: 15’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (Bkr); 18’ Elton Alexandre da Silva (Bal); 44’ Zach Muscat (Bkr); 87’ Rennie Forace (Bal)
Rabat Ajax and Melita earned a point each as they shared the spoils in a goalless draw in a clash between the two teams who were promoted from Division 1 at the end of last season.
A result which pleased the Amateurs more as they remain two points ahead of the Magpies.
Both coaches were unable to field their best formation due to the absence of Adam Smeir, Chris Schembri Yan Cauchi, Wayne Borg and Ryan Micallef for Rabat, Jovan Vukanic and Jose Luis Armaro Negrin for Melita.
Melita had the first attempt at goal on 17 minutes when Michael Martin sent Julian Galea through but the latter’s effort ended into Jonathan Azzopardi’s safe hands. Six minutes later, a Nerijus Astrauskas effort from outside the area was completely off target, ending high over the crossbar. A Dylan Falzon effort ended just wide on 37 minutes and one minute from half-time, Justin Felice served Nerijus Astrauskas inside the penalty box but the Melita goalkeeper intercepted the ball before the Rabat striker could do any harm.
A powerful low shot by Joseph Caruana, served by Clifford Gauci, from around 30 metres was blocked by the Matthew Sapiano on 63 minutes. Six minutes later, substitute Simon Galea’s low fierce shot ended inches past the upright. Nine minutes from time, Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho’s header, off a corner by Terpougoff, ended just over the bar and finally in added time, the Magpies appealed for a penalty after Nerijus Astrauskas seemed to suffer a foul just outside the area as he was heading towards goal.
David Azzopardi was voted BOV Player of the Match.
RABAT Jonathan Azzopardi, Gaetano Gesualdi, Ivan Carapic, Joseph Caruana, Justin Felice (90’ Chris Vella), Nerijus Astrauskas, Manuel Moral Fuster, Dylan Falzon, Clive Brincat, David Azzopardi, Clifford Gauci.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Sacha Cortis, Patrick Borg, Kurt Muscat, Shaun Gauci, Luke Cauchi.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joe Galea
MELITA Mathew Sapiano, Rudi Alhinho, George Gribbon, Michael Martin (76’ Andrew Scicluna), Nigel Rizzo, Julian Galea, Michael Valenzia (69’ Tobias Terpougoff), Luke Micallef (60’ Simon Galea), Karl Vella Petroni, Luke Sammut, Manwel Ramon Sierra Camacho.
Subs not used: Karl Zahra, Matthew Borg, Ivan Tufegzic, Antoine Attard.
Coach: Patxi Salinas Fernandez
Asst. Coach: Alfred Zammit
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Sammy Attard, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: Gaetano Gesualdi, Karl Vella Petroni, Simon Galea, Andrew Caruana Scicluna.