Birkirkara failed to join Hibernians in second place after their clash with Floriana at the National Stadium ended in a goalless draw.
A draw which leaves the Stripes in third place, five points behind leaders Valletta and two behind the Paolites, and the Greens in fifth place on 36 points, three behind Balzan.
Floriana had Marcelina Emerson making his return after re-joining the club on loan from Birkirkara. Clyde Borg and captain Nicolas Chiesa were ruled out through suspension apart from the injured Jurgen Pisani. Birkirkara, on the other hand, lacked the usual Justin Haber, Edward Herrera and Ryan Scicluna.
The Greens seemed to have taken the lead on the 17th minute when off a Steve Pisani freekick, Steve Bonnici headed the ball down for Juninho Cabral who placed the ball at the back of the net. However the goal was disallowed by referee Marco Borg for what was adjudged to be an offside.
The two teams shared the exchanges for most of the ninety minutes but goal scoring opportunities were few and the draw was definitely a fair result.
B’KARA Miroslav Kopric, Cain Attard, Nikola Vukanac, Mauricio Latini Mazzetti, Gareth Sciberras, Mislav Andelkovic, Edison David Bilbao Zarate, Joseph Zerafa (65′ Ryan Darmanin), Ryan Camenzuli, Goran Mujanovic (72′ Matthew Guillaumier), Frank Temile.
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Edmond Agius, Kurt Zammit, Fabien Lufi, Andrea Curmi.
Coach: Drazen Besek
FLORIANA Matthew Calleja Cremona, Andre Scicluna, Antonio Monticelli, Enrico Pepe, Steve Pisani, Mauricio Villa (85′ Mario Fontanella), Juninho Cabral, Matteo Picciollo, Steve Bonnici, Emanuel Briffa, Marcelina Emerson.
Subs not used: Matthew Grech, Luke Micallef, Neil Spiteri, Jake Davies, Daniel Agius, Firas Aboulezz, Mario Fontanella.
Coach: Luis Oliveira
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Pepe, Picciollo, Attard, Marcelina, Juninho, Sciberras, Temile
BOV Player of the Match: Mauricio Mazzetti
Attendance at the National Stadium: 1,115
Meanwhile Balzan registered a fourth consecutive win as two goals in the first half gave them a 2-0 win over Sliema Wanderers. For the Wanderers, on the other hand, this was the third consecutive defeat.
Nigerian striker Saviour Fidelis was making his debut for Sliema after joining the club for Mosta. Balzan, on the other hand, lacked the suspended Clive Brincat.
Balzan managed to take the lead on the 26th minute thanks to a direct freekick by Pedro dos Santos Calcado which gave goalkeeper Glenn Zammit no chance.
Two minutes from half-time, Balzan doubled the score when Alfred Effiong received a through pass, dribbled past the Sliema defence and chipped the ball over the Sliema goalkeeper.
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Alex Muscat, Aidan Jake Friggieri, Saviour Fidelis (31’ Kyle Hendry), Rafael Pompeo Rodrigues Ledesma (64’ Mark Scerri), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Marko Potezica, Johann Bezzina, Gary Muir, Stefano Bianciardi, Luke Dimech (85’ Michele Sansone)
Subs not used: Timothy Aquilina, Benjamin Essel, Justin Vella, Peter Xuereb.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
BALZAN Ivan Janjusevic, Justin Grioli, Paul Fenech, Steve Bezzina, Samir Arab, Alfred Effiong (74’ Alexander Vujacic), Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Ryan Fenech (55’ Lydon Micallef), Dylan Grima, Alan da Silva Souza (88’ Maxim Focsa), Elkin Orlando Serrano Valero.
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Jamie Zerafa, Daniel Spiteri, Sean Cipriott.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Philip Farrugia
Yellow Cards: Bianciardi, Alan, Janjusevic
Scorers: 26’ Pedro Dos Santos Calcado, 43’ Alfred Effiong
BOV Player of the Match: Alan Da Silva Souza
Attendence at the Hibernians Stadium: 790
Renato Vella reporting from the Hibernians Stadium