Valletta scored twice in the second half to beat Hamrun Spartans 2-0 and move seven points clear on top the BOV Premier League table. This match brought to an end the first round.
The Citizens now lead the way with 21 points, followed by Tarxien and Floriana on 14 with Hamrun, Marsaxlokk and Birkirkara on 13.
Both sides were unable to field their best formation due to the absence of Rupert Mangion and Dene Shields for the Spartans, Jonathan Caruana, Ramon Dos Santos and Jamie Pace for Valletta. Hamrun coach Steve D’Amato, on the other hand, confirmed the team which defeated Vittoriosa last week.
The first attempt at goal occurred on the 10th minute with David Camilleri testing Andrew Hogg with a long-distance freekick. Valletta replied with a low shot by Kevin Sammut which was neutralised by Omar Borg on the 21st. Then on the half hour, Terence Scerri headed the ball wide off a Denni cross from the right.
The Citizens maintained the pressure and Edmond Agius failed to connect off an inviting cross by Denni on 36 minutes. A few seconds later, a powerful shot by Roderick Briffa scraped past the post.
Five minutes from the end of the first half, Hamrun went close with Massimo Grima whose header was tipped onto the crossbar and into a corner by goalkeeper Andrew Hogg following a cross from the right by Martin Hrubsa.
Valletta managed to take the lead on 56 minutes when off a cross from the right by Denni following a short corner, Steve Borg headed the ball home past goalkeeper Omar Borg.
The Spartans replied with a great freekick by Ryan Fenech which was turned into a corner by Andrew Hogg on 68 minutes. From the resulting corner by Camilleri, Gaetan Spiteri hit just wide.
Massimo Grima missed a good opportunity as he failed to connect off a David Camilleri cross on the 80th and two minutes later, Denni went close for Valletta with a shot from outside the area.
The Spartans were reduced to ten men on 84 minutes when Martin Hrubsa received a second yellow card for a foul just outside the area.
Dyson Falzon was also dismissed for Valletta after receiving a second yellow card three minutes from time.
With the Spartans all out in search of the equaliser, Valletta managed to secure the issue with a second goal on 88 minutes. Denni served substitute Omonigho Temile inside the area and the Nigerian striker rounded a defender before hitting hard past goalkeeper Omar Borg.
Steve Borg was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
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HAMRUN Omar Borg, Mark Anthony Bonnici (91’ Mead Mifsud), Massimo Grima, Roderick Fenech, Ryan Fenech, Marcelo Pereira, Gaetan Spiteri, Jovan Vukanic, Martin Hrubsa, David Camilleri, Steve Bonnici (64’ Peter Anizoba).
Subs not used: Ivan Casha, Aaron Attard, Karl Magro, Daniel Zerafa, Lee James Agius.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Roderick Briffa, Steve Borg, Gilbert Agius (59’ Omonigho Temile), Edmond Agius, Ian Azzopardi, Ian Zammit (83’ Kurt Magro), Denni Rocha Dos Santos, Kevin Sammut, Dyson Falzon, Terence Scerri (94’ Samir Arab).
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Leone Camilleri, Clifford Gauci, Joseph Okonkwo.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Assistant Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Joe Camilleri
Fourth Official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: Rod. Fenech, MA Bonnici, D. Falzon, M. Hrubsa, E. Agius
Red Cards: 84’ M. Hrubsa, 87’ D. Falzon
Scorers: 56’ Steve Borg, 88’ Omonigho Temile