Leaders Hibernians dropped two precious points as they were held in a 1-1 draw by Pembroke Athleta.
The Paolites now lie three points ahead of Balzan who face Valletta on Sunday. Pembroke, who were coming from three consecutive defeats, move to just one point behind Mosta.
Hibernians had four changes from the team which defeated Mosta as Timothy Tabone Desira, Jackson Lima, Bjorn Kristensen and Renan Pimenta Telles replaced Conner Zammit, Dunstan Vella, Kyle O’Brien and Michael Shaddock. For Pembroke, Sunday Eboh, Owen Bugeja and Asani Djeljilj made way for Adrian Borg, Oleksandr Maksymov and Borche Manevski.
Following a goalless first half, Hibernians took the lead eight minutes after the break when Bjorn Kristensen sent Jurgen Degabriele through, only to be floored by the goalkeeper; referee Eman Grech ordered a penalty and Jurgen Degabriele made no mistake from the penalty spot.
However Pembroke equalised on the 71st minute when Andrei Agius handled the ball inside the area following a Paltemio Barbetti freekick; the referee ordered another penalty and the Italian converted.
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Marcelo Dias, Rodolfo Soares, Timothy Tabone Desira, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Bjorn Kristensen, Johann Bezzina, Joseph Mbong, Renan Pimenta Telles (81’ Juan Manuel Varea), Jurgen Degabriele, Andrei Agius.
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Kyle O’Brien, Conner Zammit, Michael Shaddock, Dunstan Vella, Jonathan Pearson.
Coach: Mark Miller
PEMBROKE Matthew Calleja Cremona, Paltemio Barbetti, Zoran Levnaic, Miguel Attard, Ugochukwo Akuta, Siraj Eddin Arab, Shola Haruna Shodiya, Filippo Andrea Scozzese, Oleksandr Maksymov, Adrian Borg, Borche Manevski.
Subs not used: Craig Abdilla, Neil Micallef, Neil Grech, Rodrick Caruana, Julian Zammit, James Mifsud, Matthew Buhagiar.
Coach: Artim Shakiri
Referee: Eman Grech
Assistant Referees: David Castillo, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Scozzese, Levnaic, Telles
Scorers: 55’ Jurgen Degabriele (pen), 71’ Paltemio Barbetti (pen)
BOV Player of the Match: Jurgen Degabriele
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 707
Renato Vella reporting from the Hibernians Stadium
Meanwhile at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, St. Andrews collected three precious points as they came from behind to beat Hamrun Spartans 3-1.
Much more was expected from the Spartans, who ended the game in nine men after having two players sent off, following last week’s impressive win over Birkirkara. This win puts St. Andrews just two points behind the Spartans although they are still eighth.
The Saints had three changes as Michael Johnson and Karlo Kesinovic replaced Felix Udoh Okon and Ziga Kastrevec while the only change for Hamrun was the inclusion of goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia who replaced David Cassar.
The Spartans took the lead on the 8th minute when Massimiliano Giusti served Jake Grech on the right and the latter beat goalkeeper Jake Galea from close range.
St. Andrews equalised on the 9th minute when off an Ivan Paz corner from the right, Michael Johnson headed home past goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia.
The Saints forged ahead on the 81st minute thanks to Karlo Kesinovic who hit home from close range.
Two minutes later, Ivan Edgardo Paz sealed the issue with a long-distance shot from the left which gave the Hamrun custodian no chance.
Four minutes from time, Sergio Raphael dos Anjos was sent off for Hamrun following an argument with an opponent.
Three minutes later, Luis Vergara Rodrigues was also given marching orders by the referee after receiving a second yellow card.
ST. ANDREWS Jake Galea, Bong Won Che, Michael Johnson, Karlo Kesinovic, Enmy Manuel Pen Beltre, Dale Camilleri, Joseph Farrugia, Ante Bakmaz, Godwin Mackay (76′ Ziga Kastrevec), Ivan Edgardo Paz (90′ Ryan Darmanin), Kyrian Nwoko (88′ Nenad Belacevic).
Subs not used: Dean Sciberras, Liam Grech, Mark Scicluna, Jacob Walker.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
HAMRUN Matthew Farrugia (38′ Fredrick Tabone), Luis Miguel Vergara Rodrigues, Philip Chircop, Luke Sciberras, Jorge Mesqueu Neto, Massimiliano Giusti, Luke Grech, Leandro Wallace Motta dos Santos (71′ Saturday Nanapere), Jake Grech, Sergio Raphael dos Anjos Raphael, Patrick Jean Teixeira Maia.
Subs not used: Rodney Refalo, Mark Borg, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Darren Falzon, Trevor Cilia.
Assistant Coach: Jonathan Holland
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Etienne Mangion
Yellow Cards: Mckay, Vergara, Jorginho, Leandro, Camilleri, Raphael, Nwoko
Red Cards: 86′ Sergio Raphael
BOV Player of the Match: Massimiliano Giusti
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 517