Hibernians missed the chance to regain the top spot in the BOV Premier League as they were held in an entertaining 3-3 draw by Hamrun Spartans at the National Stadium on Saturday.
The Paolites are now one point behind Balzan and three ahead of Valletta. For Hamrun, this was the first positive result after three consecutive league defeats and a defeat to Floriana in the FA Trophy.
The Spartans had goalkeeper Kambala Batusila making his debut replacing David Cassar. Other changes from their last league game against Valletta were the inclusion of Philip Chircop, Leandro Motta, Karl Micallef, Luke Grech and Brandon Paiber who replaced Christian Emeka Anigbogu, Luke Sciberras, Luis Vergara, Mathieu Manset and the injured Jake Grech.
Hibs coach Mark Miller named Dejan Boljevic, Jorginho and Gilmar in the starting line-up as Andrei Agius was ruled out through suspension while Montell Moore started the game on the bench and Momodou Jallow did not make it to the eighteen-man squad.
Jurgen Degabriele put Hibernians ahead after just five minutes when served inside the area, hitting low past goalkeeper Kambala Batusila.
Five minutes later, Hamrun equalised thanks to a Brandon Paiber penalty after Saturday Nanapere was brought down inside the area.
Leandro Motta was unlucky to hit the posts for Hamrun on the 16th minute but four minutes later, the same player put Hamrun ahead when he headed the ball home off a cross by Karl Micallef.
The score was once again draw on the 22nd minute thanks to a Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro freekick.
Hibernians regained the lead nine minutes in the second half when Jackson Lima served Jurgen Degabriele whose first attempt was blocked by the Congolese goalkeeper but the young Hibs striker was not to be denied off the rebound.
But on the 68th minute, Hamrun levelled matters once again, this time through Massimiliano Giusti who received a through ball and advanced into the area before hitting past Hogg.
Hibs were unlucky not to regain the lead on the 73rd minute but a Gilmar effort hit the woodwork.
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Jackson de Lima Siqueira, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Johann Bezzina (66′ Montell Moore), Jorge da Silva Pereira, Dejan Boljevic, Jurgen Degabriele, Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro.
Subs not used: RUdy Briffa, Daniel Buckle, Dunstan Vella, Connor Zammit, Timothy Tabone Desira, Andre Azzopardi.
Coach: Mark Miller
HAMRUN Kambala Batusila, Karl Micallef, Luke Grech, Sergio Raphael dos Anjos, Philip Chircop, Massimiliano Giusti, Saturday Nanapere (90+3′ Saturday Nanapere), Igor Misan, Brandon Paiber (83′ Mathieu Manset), Manolito Micallef, Leandro Motta dos Santos (78′ Siraj Arab Eddin).
Subs not used: Matthew Farrugia, Gary Cauchi, Miguel Simiana, Jeremy Busuttil.
Coach: Jacques Scerri
Referee: Kridens Meta (ALB)
Assistant Referees: Emigers Gançi, Nertil Bregasi (ALB)
Fourth Official: Juxhin Xhaja (ALB)
Yellow Cards: Soares, Misan
BOV Player of the Match: Jurgen Degabriele
Attendance at the National Stadium: 678
Meanwhile at the Hibernians Stadium, Floriana defeated Pembroke Athleta 2-0.
Greens had five changes from their last league game as Matthew Grech, Andre Scicluna, Antonio Monticelli, Clyde Borg and Nicolas Chiesa replaced Justin Haber, Enrico Pepe, Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Pisani and the suspended Alex Cini. Pembroke coach Artim Shakiri also made five changes from the game against Mosta as Iraklis Roppas, Panagiotis Giannopoulos, Daniane Jawad, Owen Bugeja and Brooke Farrugia were named in the starting line-up in lieu of Daren Falzon, Miguel Attard, Stevan Racic and the suspended Andrea Scozzese and Zoran Levnaic.
Floriana took the lead on the 10th minute thanks to Ignacio Varela whose fine volley, when served by Enzo Ruiz, beat goalkeeper Matthew Calleja Cremona in style.
The Greens went close once again on the 67th minute when off a corner by Steve Pisani, Sebastian Nayar’s effort hit the crossbar with Calleja Cremona beaten.
However they were not to be denied on the 76th minute when off a Steve Pisani freekick from the right, Enzo Ruiz’s great header gave Calleja Cremona no chance.
Eight minutes from time, Owen Bugeja was sent off for Pembroke after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Monticelli.
FLORIANA Matthew Grech, Andre Scicluna, Antonio Monticelli, Enzo Ruiz, Clyde Borg, Ignacio Varela (91′ Denilson Borg Castaldi), Sebastian Nayar, Maurizio Vella (55′ Steve Pisani), Jurgen Pisani, Nicolas Chiesa (89′ Darrell Baldacchino), Mario Fontanella.
Subs not used: Justin Haber, Jake Davies, Mattia Zarb, Jamie Delia.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
PEMBROKE Matthew Calleja Cremona, Panagiotis Giannopoulos (80′ Sunday Eboh), Raphael Kooh Sohna, Owen Bugeja, Daniane Jawad, Adrian Borg, Paltemio Barbetti (84′ Tyron Fenech), Iraklis Roppas, Go Nagaoka (61′ Daren Falzon), Tonci Radovnikovic, Brooke Farrugia.
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Zachary Grech, Neil Grech, Matthew Buhagiar.
Coach: Artim Shakiri
Referee: Etienne Mangion
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Christopher Francalanza
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Barbetti, Kooh Sohna, Bugeja, Giannopoulos
Red Cards: 82′ Owen Bugeja
BOV Player of the Match: Denilson Borg Castaldi
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 427