Balzan and Birkirkara earned a point each in a goalless draw at the National Stadium on Sunday in a clash between two teams desperate for points as they aim to get back on track in the challenge for honours.
For Balzan, this was the third draw in four matches, therefore staying in sixth place, one point behind Birkirkara who were coming from three consecutive wins.
Leading Birkirkara from the bench were Mark Buttigieg as coach and sporting director John Arne Riise as assistant coach. New recruit Maurizio Vella and the returning Luke Montebello were awarded a start as they replaced Paul Fenech who is now a player of Balzan and Michael Mifsud.
New signings Aleksandar Kosoric and Paul Fenech together with Siraj Arab Eddin and Uros Ljubomirac replaced Michael Johnson, Alfred Effiong, the suspended Elkin Serrano and Alex da Paixao who left the club.
Both sides had their fair share of scoring opportunities with Cadu going close for Balzan early in the game and then Montebello and Marcelinho for Birkirkara. Balzan tried their luck once again with a Cadu effort which was neutralised by Naumovski and a header by Majdevac ending just wide.
In the second half, a Montebello effort was turned into a corner by Sultana and then Majdevac hit just wide for Balzan. A Guillaumier attempt was parried by the Balzan goalkeeper.
Six minutes from time, the Stripes were reduced to ten men after Terence Agius was sent off for a reckless tackle on Paul Fenech.
BALZAN Steve Sultana, Aleksandar Kosoric, Nenad Sljivic, Siraj Arab Eddin (71′ Lydon Micallef), Steve Bezzina, Paul Fenech (90′ Alfred Effiong), Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes, Andrija Majdevac, Milos Lepovic.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Dale Camilleri, Zak Grech, Neil Frendo, Sean Cipriott.
Coach: Marko Micovic
Asst. Coach: Velibor Kopunovic
B’KARA Kristijan Naumovski, Danilo Chapoval, Matthew Guillaumier, Mislav Andjelkovic, Maurizio Vella (75′ Terence Agius), Luke Montebello (65′ Michael Mifsud), Jake Grech, Kurt Zammit, Eduardo Ferreira dos Santos, Cain Attard, Marcelo Franca de Siqueira (65′ Jorge da Silva Pereira).
Subs not used: Amara Sylla, Neil Micallef, Clayton Failla, Carlo Zammit Lonardelli.
Coach: Mark Buttigieg
Asst. Coach: John Arne Riise
Referee: Alan Mario Santmaltafootball.com
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Theodore Zammit
Fourth Official: Stefan Pace
Yellow Cards: Marcelinho
Red Cards: 84′ Terence Agius
BOV Player of the Match: Steve Sultana