Birkirkara returned to winning ways as a goal just before half-time enabled them to beat Tarxien Rainbows 1-0 at the Hibernians Stadium on Saturday. A win which puts the Stripes just two points behind Floriana.
For Tarxien, this was the third consecutive 0-1 defeat after losing to Hibernians and Gzira in the previous outings. They have now gone five matches without a win.
Tarxien had three changes from the team which lost to Gzira as Philip Schranz, Andrew Agius and Matthew Tabone replaced Andrea Cassar, Sacha Borg and the suspended Alex da Paixao Alves. Birkirakra, on the other hand, lacked the suspended Ryan Scicluna. Edward Herrera and Joseph Zerafa replaced Gary Muir and Scicluna.
Birkirkara scored the all-important goal on the 45th minute thanks to a freekick by Miguel Angel Alba which beat goalkeeper Philip Schranz.
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TARXIEN Philip Schranz, Ebiabowei Baker, Emerson Marcelina, Triston Caruana, Daniel Ponce de Leon Garcia, Alex Nilsson, Ayrton Azzopardi (72′ Dylan Micallef), Andrew Agius (63′ Julian Galea), Daniel Zerafa, Matthew Tabone (79′ Sacha Borg), Kurt Zammit.
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Matthew Brincat, Matthew Degiorgio, Mauro Hammett.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
B’KARA Henry Bonello, Edward Herrera (90+1′ Steve Bonnici), Gareth Sciberras, Edmond Agius (90′ James Brincat), Srdjan Dimitrov, Nikola Vukanac, Joseph Zerafa, Miguel Angel Alba, Cain Attard, Predrag Jovic, Gonzalo Malan (86′ Vito Plut).
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Neil Micallef, Matteo Desira Buttigieg, Jhon Adolfo Obregon.
Coach: Nikola Jaros
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Jurgen Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Stefan Pace
BOV Player of the Match: Miguel Angel Alba
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 552
Meanwhile at the National Stadium, Hibernians regained the top spot, at least before Balzan’s clash with bottom-placed Pembroke Athleta on Sunday, as they defeated Sliema Wanderers 2-1.
For the Wanderers, who were coming from a 1-3 defeat to Valletta, this was therefore a second consecutive defeat.
Hibs coach Mark Miller made one change from the team which drew with Hamrun as Andrei Agius replaced Johann Bezzina while for Sliema, Riccardo Correa and Wisdom Salomon replaced Jean Paul Farrugia and the suspended Denni Rocha dos Santos.
Hibernians took the lead on the 7th minute thanks to Jurgen Degabriele whose angled shot from the right, when served by Gilmar, beat goalkeeper Giuseppe Sarao.
Hibs doubled the score on the 34th minute when off a Gilmar freekick from the left, Bjorn Kristensen flicked the ball past the Sliema goalkeeper.
The Wanderers reduced the gap on the 62nd minute thanks to an Alex Muscat penalty after Clayton Failla pushed Jonathan Pearson inside the area.
SLIEMA Giuseppe Sarao, Alex Muscat, Frank Temile, Stefano Bianciardi, Wisdom Salomon, Jonathan Pearson (85′ Ryan Spiteri), John Mintoff, Riccardo Calisto Correa Duarte, Mark Scerri, Leonardo Incorvaia (46′ Jean Paul Farrugia), Gabriel Aquilina (73′ Matias Muchardi).
Subs not used: GLenn Zammit, Luca Martinelli, Michele Sansone, Luca Brincat.
Coach: John Buttigieg
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Jackson Lima, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro (81′ Montell Moore), Dejan Boljevic (68′ Johann Bezzina), Jorge da Silva Pereira, Jurgen Degabriele (77′ Dunstan Vella), Andrei Agius.
Subs not used; Rudy Briffa, Daniel Buckle, Timothy Tabone Desira, Conner Zammit.
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Dias, Failla, Correa, Aquilina, Bianciardi, Hogg, Scerri
BOV Player of the Match: Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro
Attendance at the National Stadium: 863