Despite playing for over forty-five minutes in ten men, Floriana managed to hold Valletta in a 1-1 draw at the National Stadium. A draw which would allow Balzan to join the Citizens on top should they beat Senglea Athletic.
After just one minute, Valletta appealed for a penalty after Enmy Pena Beltre was pushed inside the area by Enzo Ruiz but referee Alan Mario Sant waved play on.
The Citizens however took the lead on the 9th minute when off a cross by Kyrian Nwoko from the right, Miguel Angel Alba left the ball for the unmarked Matteo Piciollo to hit home.
Floriana went close on the 21st minute with a Sebastian Nayar close range effort which was blocked by a defender following a freekick by Mario Vella, headed down by Fontanella. Three minutes later, Juninho Cabral’s overhead kick ended wide following a cross from the right.
Two minutes from the end of the first half, the Greens were reduced to ten men as Jurgen Pisani was sent off for spitting at Miguel Angel Alba following a rough tackle by the latter on the Floriana midfielder.
Eleven minutes in the second half, Matteo Piciollo received a good assist on the left but rather than concluding, served Santiago Malano whose attempt ended wide. Floriana replied with a header by Fontanella which was parried by Henry Bonello on the 58th but on the 64th, a Matteo Piciollo volley ended just wide.
On the 68th minute, the Citizens thought they had doubled the score when Enmy Pena Beltre’s powerful drive from the right hit the upright with Matteo Piciollo hitting home off the rebound but the goal was disallowed for Kyrian Nwoko’s offside position.
Floriana equalised on the 74th minute thanks to Enzo Ruiz who headed the ball home from close range following a Maurizio Vella freekick from the left.
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FLORIANA Ini Etim Akpan, Sebastian Nayar, Enrico Pepe, Enzo Ruiz, Steve Pisani, Maurizio Vella (90+4′ Dylan Grima), Juninho Cabral, Jurgen Pisani, Alex Cini, Mario Fontanella, Emerson Marcelina.
Subs not used: Matthew Grech, Clyde Borg, Mattia Zarb, Bradley Sciberras, Jamie Delia, Denilson Borg Castaldi.
Coach: JJ Aquilina Asst. Coach: Nicolas Chiesa
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Santiago Malano, Matteo Piciollo (69′ Joseph Zerafa), Kyrian Nwoko, Jean Borg, Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre, Raed Ibrahim Saleh (84′ Michael Mifsud), Rowen Muscat, Miguel Angel Alba (80′ Denni Rocha dos Santos).
Subt not used: Nicky Vella, Juan Cruz Gill, Russell Fenech, Joseph Zerafa, Nicholas Pulis.
Coach: Danilo Doncic. Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Paul Apap
Additional Assistant Referees: Mario Apap, Matthew De Gabriele
Fourth Official: Jurgen Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Vella, Borg, Alba, Cabral
Red Cards: 43′ Jurgen Pisani
BOV Player of the Match: Sebastian Nayar
Meanwhile at the Hibernians Stadium, a goal by Misael Miranda Gomes gave St. Andrews three precious points in the battle against relegation as they defeated Birkirkara 1-0.
The Saints join Mosta on the 23-point mark, two ahead of Tarxien and seven ahead of Naxxar but these have all a game in hand.
The Stripes were down to ten men after just thirty minutes as Carlos Alberto was sent off with a straight red card.
On the 68th minute, the Saints could have taken the lead when they were awarded a penalty after Kevaughn Atkinson was brought down inside the area by Nikola Vukanac. However Kemar Reid hit the crossbar from the penalty spot.
St. Andrews took the lead ten minutes from time thanks to Misael Miranda Gomez who hit the ball home past Naumovski following a cross from the left by Atkinson.
Three minutes later, the Saints were awarded another penalty after another foul inside the area but Travis Blagrove’s effort from the penalty spot was neutralised by the Macedonian goalkeeper.
To make matters worse for Birkirkara, Jake Grech received a second yellow card on the 90th minute and was therefore sent off.
ST. ANDREWS Matthew Calleja Cremona, Adrian Borg, Misael Miranda Gomez, Martin Davis, Jason Vandelannoite, Ricardo Adrian Martin, Matthew Gauci, Kevaughn Atkinson, Marcus Grima, Kemar Reid, Travis Blagrove.
Subs not used: Duncan Formosa, Dejan Debono, Liam Grech, Miguel D’Alessandro, Aidan Friggieri, Alex Satariano, Jacob Walker.
Coach: Michael Woods Asst. Coach: Joseph Farrugia
B’KARA Kristijan Naumovski, Lucas Maia (79′ Kurt Zammit), Nikola Vukanac, Matthew Guillaumier (11′ Jake Grech), Ryan Scicluna, Ognjen Rolovic, Waldemar Acosta, Terence Agius, Fernando Barbosa Pereira, Carlos Alberto da Silva Goncalves Junior, Edward Herrera.
Subs not used: David Cassar, Neil Micallef, Nick Borg, Ayrton Attard.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Patrick Canepa
Assistant Referees: Johan Ward, Kyron Azopardi
Fourth Official: Herbert Warwick
Yellow Cards: Maia, Blagrove, Grech, Vukanac
Red Cards: 31′ Carlos Alberto da Silva, 90′ Jake Grech
BOV Player of the Match: Kevaughn Atkinson