Balzan maintained a three-point lead over Sliema Wanderers as the two teams shared the spoils in a goalless draw at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.
This was the third consecutive draw for Oliver Spiteri’s side who therefore stays in third place, now enjoying a three-point lead over Qormi, Valletta, Sliema and Mosta.
The Wanderers welcomed back Michael Mifsud but lacked Paltemio Barbetti, Stefano Bianciardi and the suspended Clifford Gatt Baldacchino. Mifsud, Filippo Andrea Scozzese and Marko Potezica were named in the starting line-up with Filippo Talato starting on the bench. For Balzan, the inclusion of Samir Arab and Luke Sciberras were the only changes from the team which drew with Pietà as they replaced Clive Brincat and Lydon Micallef.
Balzan had the first attempt at goal with Ice-Cream Guobadia sending Piccioni through and the latter’s close-range shot was parried by Zammit on the 4th minute. Sliema replied with a header by Marko Potezica, off a corner by Trevor Cilia, ending over the bar on 22 minutes. A good effort by Cilia ended just over the crossbar on 31 minutes and just before half-time, a solo effort by Mifsud Triganza which saw him come face-to-face with Zammit after two rebounds but his low shot scraped past the post.
Five minutes in the second half, Piccioni tried to surprise Zammit with a shot from midfield but the ball ended high. Nine minutes later, Scozzese headed wide off a Trevor Cilia corner. A good move between Pisanu, Mifsud and Scerri saw the midfielder’s shot just missing the target on 61 minutes. Mifsud was then unlucky to hit the upright with Guy Gnabuyou’s effort off the rebound blocked by the goalkeeper. Finally Zammit performed a good save on Piccioni following a counter-attack for Balzan.
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Luca Martinelli, Filippo Andrea Scozzese, Guy Gnabouyou, John Mintoff, Mark Scerri, Michael Mifsud, Andrea Pisanu, Marko Potezica, Trevor Cilia (85’ Iousef Meli), Fabio Mangiacasale (72’ Filippo Talato).
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Clive Psaila, Axl Xuereb, Peter Xuereb, Carl Cassar.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
BALZAN Steve Sultana, Justin Grioli, Steve Bezzina, Elkin Orlando Serrano Valero, Edison David Bilbao Zarate, Osa Ice-Cream Guobadia, Samir Arab, Luke Sciberras, Oscar Dario Guerrero, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (75’ Lydon Micallef), Gianmarco Piccioni.
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Michael Borg, Juan Corbolan, Clive Brincat, Ryan Darmanin, Fredrick Nonso Odebe.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Mifsud, Serrano, Gnabouyou, Guobadia, Arab
BOV Player of the Match: Mark Scerri