On-loan midfielder Dyson Falzon was on target once again for Hamrun Spartans as they held Valletta in a 1-1 draw, therefore denying the Citizens the possibility of moving eight points clear on top the BOV Premier League table.
Valletta now lead the way with 23 points, six ahead of Birkirkara while Hamrun lie at the bottom of the Championship Pool with 13, one behind Floriana.
Denni Rocha Dos Santos and Jamie Pace were missing for Valletta. On the other hand, Hamrun welcomed back Massimo Grima and Dene Shields but lacked Gaetan Spiteri, Marcelo Pereira and the injured Roderick Fenech.
Valletta forged ahead on the 2nd minute when a cross by Edmond Agius found Jonathan Caruana all alone in front of Omar Borg to head the ball home.
Three minutes later, the Citizens could have added another one but Omonigho Temile’s effort was neutralised by the Hamrun goalkeeper.
Hamrun replied with a Massimo Grima freekick from the left which was parried by Hogg on 29 minutes.
In added time, a low conclusion by Terence Scerri was blocked by Omar Borg.
Six minutes in the second half, off a Kevin Sammut corner from the right, Jonathan Caruana went close with a header which was however turned into another corner. On 68 minutes, Kevin Sammut hit wide off a cross from the right by Roderick Briffa. Four minutes later, Terence Scerri had a goal disallowed for an offside.
Hamrun equalised on 79 minutes when off a cross by Massimo Grima, Dyson Falzon slammed the ball past goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
Following a cross from the right by Gilbert Agius, Terence Scerri had a shot from close range blocked by Omar Borg on 85 minutes and off the rebound the same Valletta striker’s effort was saved by the Hamrun custodian.
Then on 88 minutes, Gilbert Agius was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a fine shot when served by Ian Zammit. Two minutes later, on the other side of the pitch, Lee James Agius had a long-distance shot turned into a corner by Hogg.
One minute in added time, a header by Terence Scerri, off a cross from the right by Briffa, was cleared off the goal line by Rupert Mangion.
Dyson Falzon was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photo: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
HAMRUN Omar Borg, Dragan Milovic, Massimo Grima (85’ Jovan Vukanic), Rupert Mangion, Dene Shields, Lee James Agius, Dyson Falzon, Nikolay Chipev, David Camilleri, Steve Bonnici (23’ Mark Anthony Bonnici), Peter Anizoba (78’ Mead Mifsud).
Subs not used: Ivan Casha, Craig Debattista, Karl Magro, Dylan Kokavessis.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Assistant Coach: Victor Cassar
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Steve Borg, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Roderick Briffa, Edmond Agius, Gilbert Agius, Kevin Sammut (80’ Ryan Fenech), Omonigho Temile, Terence Scerri, Andrade Antunes Anderson (67’ Ian Zammit).
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Karl Azzopardi, Ramon Dos Santos, Kurt Magro, Kane Psaila.
Coach: Nardu Farrugia
Assistant Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Konrad Borg, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: Sammut, Falzon, Anizoba, L.J. Agius
Scorers: 2’ Jonathan Caruana (V); 79’ Dyson Falzon (H)
Ten-man Hibernians collected three precious points in the battle against relegation after defeating Vittoriosa Stars 2-1. Three points which put the Paolites five points clear of Vittoriosa.
The two teams shared the exchanges during the first half but early after the break, Vittoriosa held the initiative. Ironically Hibs improved despite having a player sent off and notched the winner late in the game.
Both sides had a number of changes from their last outing. The Paolites had Aaron Xuereb, Ryan Camilleri, Paul McManus and new signing Taki Abdelilah all being named in the starting line-up with Matthew Tabone, Matthew Gauci and Brian Fairnbairn starting on the bench. Steve Pisani and Jean Paul Farrugia were missing from the squad.
Vittoriosa, on the other hand, had three changes as Pierre Aquilina, Justin Camilleri and Carlos Campagnoli replaced Clayton Micallef, Alan Tabone and Anthony Ewurum. Leighton Grech was missing as he was serving a one-match ban.
The Stars had the first attempt at goal on the 7th minute when off an inviting cross by Carl Sammut from the left, Edison Luis Dos Santos went close with a fine scissors-kick but the ball was turned the ball into a corner by Muscat. From the resulting corner by Sammut, Steve Wellman headed just over the bar.
On the 15th, Jeffrey Chetcuti almost committed an own goal when deflecting a cross from the right by Edward Herrera with a header but Jean Vella managed to turn the ball into a corner.
Hibernians managed to take the lead six minutes from the end of the first half when Steve Wellman floored Paul McManus inside the area. Referee Alan Mario Sant ordered a penalty and McManus made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Five minutes in the second half, Murilo Maccari went close with a powerful header off a Jorge Santos Silva corner from the left but the ball ended just over the bar. A cross shot by Edward Herrera on the other side of the pitch was parried by Jean Vella.
Carlos Campagnoli hit wide for Vittoriosa on 55 minutes following a cross from the right by Edison Luis Dos Santos. Two minutes later, Jorge Santos Silva concluded a good move on the right with a perfect pass for Edison Luis Dos Santos whose first-time effort ended just wide. On 59 minutes, Mario Muscat came to the rescue blocking a close-range effort by Jorge Santos Silva following a cross from the left by Campagnoli.
On the hour, Hibernians were reduced to ten men after referee Alan Mario Sant sent off Brian Fairnbairn just a few minutes after he had replaced McManus.
Four minutes later, Edison Luis Dos Santos levelled matters for Vittoriosa, beating Mario Muscat with a low shot from the edge of the area.
Aaron Xuereb came to the rescue for Hibernians clearing the ball into safety following an inviting cross from the right by Campagnoli on 77 minutes.
However Hibernians regained the lead on 81 minutes when off an Andrew Cohen cross from the right, Adrian Pulis placed the ball at the back of the net in style with a diving header.
Vittoriosa replied with a header by Murilo Maccari off a cross by Campagnoli on 85 minutes but Muscat neutralised his attempt. Finally one minute in added time, Vittoriosa appealed for a penalty after substitute Anthony Ewurum ended on the ground after entering the penaty area but the Nigerian striker was booked for simulation.
Edward Herrera was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
HIBS Mario Muscat, Edward Herrera, Adrian Pulis, Aaorn Xuereb, Jonathan Pearson, Richie Hart, Patrick Osei, Paul McManus (52’ Brian Fairbairn), Andrew Cohen, Ryan Camilleri (70’ Bjorn Kristensen), Taki Abdelilah (85’ Triston Caruana).
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Matthew Gauci, Matthew Tabone, Matt Clarke.
Coach: Mark Miller
Assistant Coach: Edmond Lufi
VITTORIOSA Jean Vella, Pierre Aquilina (46’ Clayton Micallef), Jeffrey Chetcuti, Stephen Wellman, Justin Camilleri, Ryan Grech, Murilo Maccari, Carlos Campagnoli, Carl Sammut (83’ Alan Tabone), Jorge Santos Silva (75’ Anthony Ewurum), Edison Luis Dos Santos.
Subs not used: Simon Agius, Larry Lagana, Dino Cachia, Jonathan Xerri.
Coach: Winston Muscat
Assistant Coach: Darren Abdilla
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: Pulis, Osei, Sammut, Hart, Pearson, Ewurum
Red Cards: 60’ Brian Fairnbairn
Scorers: 39’ Paul McManus (pen) (H); 64’ Edison Luis Dos Santos (V); 81’ Adrian Pulis (H)