Birkirkara moved seven points clear on top the BOV Premier League table thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over Sliema Wanderers. Second-placed Valletta, however, have a game in hand.
For the Stripes, this was the seventh win in eight matches. On the other hand, for Sliema, this was the third consecutive one after losing 0-4 to Qormi in their last league outing and 2-5 to Hamrun Spartans in the FA Trophy.
Both sides were unable to field their best formation. Birkirkara lacked Rowen Muscat and Alan Tabone while Pedro Dos Santos Calcado was missing for the Wanderers. Sliema coach Mark Marlow, who was also suspended, left Lucian Dronca and Julio Alcorse out of the starting line-up.
The Stripes went on the offensive right from the start and a shot by George Mallia, served by Comvalius from the left, was blocked by a defender. A free kick by Shaun Bajada was also blocked by the Sliema rear-guard. On the other side of the pitch, a corner from the right created havoc inside the area but goalkeeper Jorge Mora somehow managed to grab the ball.
Birkirkara managed to take the lead on 15 minutes when off a corner from the left, Nikola Vukanac rose high to head home past goalkeeper Simon Agius.
Four minutes later, Trevor Cilia concluded a good run on the right with a low shot ending just wide.
Sliema replied with a good pass by Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza for Ryan Fenech whose fine shot ended just over the bar on 28 minutes. But three minutes later, the Stripes went close once again with a Sylvano Comvalius direct free kick which was tipped into a corner by the Sliema custodian. From the resulting corner, Shaun Bajada just missed the target with a direct attempt.
Jorge Mora saved partially a good shot by Alex Muscat on 36 minutes before a defender cleared the ball into safety.
In added time, Michael Galea released Sylvano Comvalius on the left but off the latter’s pass, Trevor Cilia failed to connect.
Birkirkara doubled the score six minutes in the second half when Josef Mifsud lost the ball to Trevor Cilia outside the area. Cilia unleashed a powerful shot which was blocked by goalkeeper Simon Agius. However the ball bounced on the same Birkirkara striker, ending at the back of the net.
Trevor Cilia then served Michael Galea from the right on 58 minutes but the latter was unlucky to hit the upright from close range after controlling the ball.
On the hour, Trevor Cilia made it 3-0 for Birkirkara. There was a cross by Cilia from the right for George Mallia whose conclusion was partially saved by the Sliema custodian. The Sliema defence failed to clear the ball into safety and the former Floriana player managed to place the ball once again at the back of the net.
Sliema went close to scoring a consolation goal on 74 minutes but Ian Azzopardi’s beautiful direct free kick was turned into a corner by Jorge Mora. Five minutes later, a powerful drive by substitute Julio Alcorse from the right hit the upright.
Finally with a direct freekick, Sylvano Comvalius went close to increasing the lead further for Birkirkara three minutes from time but the ball ended high.
Trevor Cilia was voted BOV Player of the Match.
SLIEMA Simon Agius, Alex Muscat (86′ Amadeo Mercieca), Ian Azzopardi, Josef Mifsud, Ryan Fenech, Mark Scerri, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ivan Woods, John Mintoff (56‘ Ian Ciantar), Clayton Failla (52‘ Julio Alcorse).
Subs not used: Jeremy Alden, Luca Martinelli, Noel Turner, Lucian Dronca.
Team Manager: Rupert Perry
B’KARA Jorge Mora, Trevor Cilia, Nikola Vukanac, Branko Nisevic, Paul Fenech, George Mallia (62‘ Joseph Zerafa), Angus Buhagiar (87′ Thomas Paris), Carlo Mamo, Shaun Bajada, Michael Galea (71‘ Carl Pulo), Sylvano Comvalius.
Subs not used: Omar Borg, Andrew Scicluna, Andreas Galea, Diansand Brincat.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Team Manager: Mario Gatt
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: C. Gatt Baldacchino, J. Mintoff, C. Mamo, S. Bajada, R. Fenech
Scorers: 15‘ Nikola Vukanac, 51‘ Trevor Cilia, 60‘ Trevor Cilia
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