Hamrun Spartans claimed three precious points in the battle against relegation as they defeated Floriana 2-1. The Spartans now lead the way with fourteen points, two ahead of Floriana and five ahead of Msida St. Joseph.
The two teams had two players making their debut, namely Nigerian striker Obinna Polycarp Obiefule for Hamrun Spartans and German-born Ethiopian Michael Ghebru for Floriana who replaced Joao Mawete and Victor Zlydarev respectively. However both sides were unable to field their best formation. In fact, Floriana lacked Julian Briffa, Orosco Anonam, Clifton Ciantar, Marlon Briffa, Christian Caruana and Joseph Borg. Diego Cucciardi, Timothy Fleri Soler and Jonathan Holland were, on the other hand, ruled out for Hamrun.
Hamrun took the lead on the 20th when Manolito Micallef served Gaetan Spiteri who rounded a defender before beating goalkeeper Bernard Paris with a good shot from inside the area.
The Spartans went close once again on 23 minutes when off a Rupert Mangion corner, Ian Zammit’s powerful shot was neutralised by the Floriana goalkeeper. Following a cross by Marcelo Pereira, Gaetan Spiteri had a fine shot blocked by the Floriana custodian on 41 minutes. One minute from the end of the first half, Ivan Casha saved a low shot by Ryan Darmanin.
Seven minutes in the second half, Ryan Darmanin was unlucky to hit the upright from close range following a cross by Michael Ghebru from the left.
Floriana levelled matters on 69 minutes when a powerful shot by Ryan Darmanin was deflected by Roderick Fenech past goalkeeper Ivan Casha.
Two minutes from time, Hamrun notched the winner when Obinna Obiefule served Ian Zammit on the left, the latter hit the foot of the post and off the rebound, Roderick Fenech placed the ball at the back of the net.
One minute in added time, the Spartans could have added another but Manolito Micallef’s effort was turned into a corner by the Floriana custodian.
Gaetan Spiteri was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HAMRUN Ivan Casha, Mark Anthony Bonnici, Rupert Mangion, Roderick Fenech, Manolito Micallef, Marcelo Pereira (81’ Mead Mifsud), Gaetan Spiteri (79’ Mark Barbara), Martin Hrubsa, Obinna Polycarp Obiefule, Clyde Camoin, Ian Zammit.
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Aaron Attard, Neville Galea, Lee James Agius, Mauro Busuttil.
Coach: Steve D’Amato Asst. Coach: Marco Grech
FLORIANA Bernard Paris, Brian Said, Stefano Grima, Jermain Brincat (46’ Roberto Brincat), Pablo Doffo, Sacha Borg, Mark Spiteri (89’ Alan Abela), Michael Ghebru, Ryan Darmanin, Stefan Lijeksic, Clyde Borg.
Subs not used: Jurgen Micallef, Owen Bugeja, Luke Agius, Mauro Grioli, Greg Marney.
Coach: Zoran Popovic Asst. Coach: Darren Abdilla
Referee: Anton Zammit
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Edward Spiteri
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Micallef, Obiefule, Fenech, R. Brincat, G. Spiteri, Bonnici
Scorers: 20’ Gaetan Spiteri (H); 69’ Ryan Darmanin (F); 88’ Roderick Fenech (H)
Meanwhile in a match from the Championship Pool, Sliema Wanderers defeated Tarxien Rainbows 2-0 to join Qormi in third place on eighteen points.
Alex Muscat and Ryan Fenech returned for Sliema but Josef Mifsud and John Mintoff were missing as they were serving a one-match ban. Tarxien midfielder Denni Rocha Dos Santos was also ruled out through suspension.
Sliema had the first attempt at goal on 10 minutes when off a fine pass by Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Clayton Failla unleashed a powerful shot which was neutralised by David Cassar.
The Wanderers took the lead on 23 minutes when a freekick by Ryan Fenech was not held by goalkeeper David Cassar and off the rebound, Lucian Dronca slammed the ball home.
The Rainbows replied with a David Camilleri freekick which scraped past the post.
Hardly a minute in the second half, the Blues doubled the score when Julio Alcorse concluded a good run with a powerful shot which beat the Tarxien custodian.
Substitute Ryan Grech went close for Tarxien with a fine header ending just over the bar off a David Camilleri corner on 67 minutes. Five minutes later, on the other side of the pitch, Clayton Failla just failed to connect off a cross by Ivan Woods from the right. On 82 minutes, a shot from outside the area by Anderson Mendes Ribeiro was turned into a corner by Simon Agius.
Ivan Woods was vote BOV Player of the Match.
TARXIEN David Cassar, Steve Sadowski (54’ Kurt Magro), Manuel Caruana, David Camilleri, Everton Antonio Pereira, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro, Mark Tanti (66’ Ryan Grech), Andrew Decesare (54’ Gianluca Calabretta), Luke Vella Critien, Ryan Mintoff, Justin Grioli.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Warren Zerafa, James Shead, Lee Galea.
Coach: Noel Coleiro Asst. Coach: Michael Church
SLIEMA Simon Agius, Alex Muscat, Ian Azzopardi, Ryan Fenech, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (57’ Mark Scerri), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ivan Woods, Lucian Dronca, Julio Cesar Alcorse(88′ Noel Turner), Pedro Dos Santos Calcado (92′ Amadeo Mercieca), Clayton Failla.
Subs not used: Jeremy Alden, Luca Martinelli, Ray Attard, Ian Ciantar.
Coach: Mark Marlow Team Manager: Rupert Perry
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Gatt Baldacchino, Pedrinho, Fenech, Vella Critien, Grioli
Scorers: 23’ Lucian Dronca, 46’ Julio Alcorse
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