Marsaxlokk moved a step closer towards securing a place in the Championship Pool after beating Hamrun Spartans by the odd goal in five. A win which puts the Southseasiders three points ahead of the Spartans and just one behind fourth-placed Birkirkara.
In fact, they collected eight points from the last four matches. On the other hand, for Hamrun, this was yet another disappointing result as they were suffering the fourth successive defeat.
The Spartans welcomed back Dene Shields following a three-and-a-half month absence due to an injury but had Dyson Falzon making his debut after joining the club on loan from Valletta. Missing for Hamrun were the injured Martin Hrubsa and Roderick Fenech and the suspended Rupert Mangion. On the other hand, Carlo Mamo returned for Marsaxlokk who lacked Rumen Galabov and Clive Brincat.
Hamrun managed to take the lead on the 15th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Florent Raimy brought Marcelo Pereira down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Dene Shields converted.
Six minutes from the end of the first half, Shields went close to doubling the score with a shot from the left hitting the upright.
The match came to life after the break and ten minutes in the second half, Dene Shields concluded a good run on the left flank with a shot ending just wide and on the hour, a Trevor Templeman effort was turned into a corner by goalkeeper Omar Borg.
Marsaxlokk levelled matters on 65 minutes when a Martin Deanov freekick hit the crossbar and bounced on the goal line before Florent Raimy placed the ball at the back of the net.
Two minutes later, the Southseasiders made it 2-1 when off a cross from the right by Alfred Effiong, substitute Ruben Guerreiro Gravata beat Omar Borg with an overhead kick.
Hamrun levelled matters on 74 minutes when the Marsaxlokk rear-guard failed to clear a Dyson Falzon cross from the left and Gaetan Spiteri hit home from close range.
Ruben Guerreiro Gravata went close to restoring the lead when his powerful shot from the left a minute later.
But Marsaxlokk were not to be denied on the 78th when off a Martin Deanov cross from the left, Trevor Templeman slotted the ball past Omar Borg to make it 3-2.
Dene Shields was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
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HAMRUN Omar Borg, Massimo Grima, Mark Anthony Bonnici (45′ Mead Mifsud), Dene Shields, Lee James Agius (85′ Dylan Kokavessis), Marcelo Pereira, Dyson Falzon, Gaetan Spiteri, Jovan Vukanic, David Camilleri, Steve Bonnici.
Subs not used: Ivan Casha, Aaron Attard, Craig Debattista, Glenn Azzopardi, Karl Magro.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Assistant Coach: Victor Cassar
M’XLOKK Reuben Gauci, Malcolm Licari, Andrew Spiteri, Emil Yanchev, Carlo Mamo, Peter Pullicino, Florent Raimy (89′ Ryan Darmanin), Gareth Sciberras (52′ Ruben Guerreiro Gravata), Martin Deanov, Trevor Templeman, Alfred Effiong.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Gary Caruana, Luca Lodetti, Julio Alcorse, Sunday Eboh.
Coach: Patrick Curmi
Assistant Coach: Louis Cutajar
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: D. Camilleri, F. Raimy, P. Pullicino, L.J. Agius, T. Templeman, R. Guerreiro, M. Deanov, M. Grima
Scorers: 15′ Dene Shields (pen) (H); 65′ Florent Raimy (M); 67′ Ruben Guerreiro Gravata (M); 76′ Gaetan Spiteri (H); 78′ Trevor Templeman (M)