Leaders Balzan dropped another two points as they were held in a 1-1 draw by Sliema Wanderers at the National Stadium on Friday. A draw which ensures they retain the top spot for at least another two weeks.
For Sliema, this was the sixth consecutive positive result and the second consecutive 1-1 draw.
The Wanderers had four changes from the team which was held in a draw by Mosta as the returning Stefano Bianciardi and Peter Xuereb, Denni Rocha dos Santos and John Mintoff replaced the injured Mark Scerri and Wisdom Salmon, Gabriel Aquilina and Ryan Spiteri. With Christian Cassar, Elkin Serrano, Alfred Effiong and Lydon Micallef all ruled out through suspension, Balzan coach Oliver Spiteri was forced to make three changes as Ivan Janjusevic replaced Cassar, Clive Brincat replaced Serrano and Abdelkarim Nafti took Effiong’s place.
Sliema held the initiative during the first half but against the run of play, Balzan managed to take the lead just before half-time when off an assist by Paul Fenech, Bojan Kaljevic’s fine effort from outside the area hit the crossbar before ending at the back of the net.
However Sliema equalised on the 62nd minute when Janjusevic turned into a corner a powerful drive by Peter Xuereb and from the resulting corner, Mathias Muchardi headed home past the Montenegrin goalkeeper.
Balzan could have regained the lead eleven minutes from time when Abdelkarim Nafti anticipated the Balzan goalkeeper following a cross from the right by Paul Fenech but was unlucky to hit the foot of the post
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Alex Muscat (71′ Ryan Spiteri), Gary Muir, Roger de Souza Villas Boas, Stefano Bianciardi, John Mintoff, Mathias Muchardi (78′ Gabriel Aquilina), Marko Potezica, Peter Xuereb, Jean Paul Farrugia (90′ Milos Galin), Denni Rocha dos Santos.
Subs not used: Timothy Aquilina, Beppe Muscat, Michele Sansone, Omar Elouni.
Coach: John Buttigieg
BALZAN Ivan Janjusevic, Paul Fenech, Samir Arab, Bojan Kalevic, Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Steve Bezzina, Clive Brincat, Abdelkarim Nafti (85′ Terence Agius), Dylan Grima (48′ Anderson Francisco de Barros), Matteo Piciollo (90+2′ Paul Lapira), Alan da Silva Souza.
Subs not used: Justin Micallef, Ryan Fenech, Jamie Zerafa, Sean Cipriott.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Eman Grech
Yellow Cards: Arab, Xuereb, Kaljevic, Brincat
BOV Player of the Match: Mathias Muchardi