Valletta maintained a six-point lead on top the BOV Premier League table as late goals by Malcolm Licari and Ryan Fenech led to a 1-1 draw between the Citizens and Marsaxlokk.
Patrick Curmi’s side seemed heading towards victory as they managed to take the lead seven minutes from time but Ryan Fenech notched the equaliser five minutes later.
Valletta welcomed back Denni Rocha Dos Santos but once again lacked the injured Jamie Pace. Clive Brincat, on the other hand, was missing for Marsaxlokk.
The Southseasiders had the first attempt at goal on the 2nd minute with an angled shot by Alfred Effiong from the right saved by Hogg. On the other side of the pitch, Terence Scerri headed wide off a cross by Omonigho Temile from the right. Marsaxlokk replied with a cross by Peter Pullicino from which Gareth Sciberras hit just wide from the edge of the area.
Two minutes in the second half, a cross shot from the right by Ryan Fenech was deflected into a corner by Pullicino. On 55 minutes, a freekick by Martin Deanov for Marsaxlokk was neutralised by Hogg.
On 69 minutes, Ryan Fenech sent Denni through on the right but there was no one to conclude off the latter’s inviting pass. Two minutes later, Gilbert Agius hit wide off a cross by Terence Scerri. On the 75th minute, Reuben Gauci performed a great save on Terence Scerri, served by Agius inside the area. On the other side of the pitch, Steve Borg managed to halt a great run by Alfred Effiong, clearing the ball into safety.
Marsaxlokk took the lead on 83 minutes when off a pass from the left by Gareth Sciberras, substitute Malcolm Licari slotted the ball past goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
But two minutes from time, Gilbert Agius served Terence Scerri whose shot from the right hit the upright and off the rebound, Ryan Fenech headed the ball home.
In added time, Julio Alcorse headed high off a cross from the right by Gareth Sciberras and Terence Scerri also headed high when served by Antunes Anderson.
Four minutes in stoppage time, the Southseasiders were reduced to ten men as Florent Raimy was sent off by referee Chris Lautier.
Steve Borg was voted BOV Player of the Match.
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Ian Azzopardi, Steve Borg, Jonathan Caruana, Roderick Briffa, Edmond Agius, Kevin Sammut (83’ Antunes Anderson Andrade), Omonigho Temile (67’ Gilbert Agius), Ryan Fenech, Terence Scerri, Denni Rocha Dos Santos.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Karl Azzopardi, Kurt Magro, Ramon Dos Santos, Ian Zammit.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Assistant Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
M’XLOKK Reuben Gauci, Trevor Templeman, Emil Yanchev, Rumen Galabov, Carlo Mamo, Florent Raimy, Peter Pullicino, Gareth Sciberras, Martin Deanov, Alfred Effiong (77’ Julio Alcorse), Ryan Darmanin (63’ Malcolm Licari).
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Ruben Guerreiro Gravata, Luca Lodetti, Andrew Spiteri, Sunday Eboh.
Coach: Patrick Curmi
Assistant Coach: Louis Cutajar
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Raimy, Pullicino, J. Caruana, R. Fenech
Red Cards: 90+3′ Raimy
Scorers: 83’ Malcolm Licari (M); 88’ Ryan Fenech (V)
Hamrun Spartans maintained their positive run with a third draw in four matches as they held Birkirkara in a 1-1 draw.
The Stripes therefore missed the opportunity to move closer to leaders Valletta. Hamrun, on the other hand, still lie at the bottom of the Championship Pool with fourteen points, one behind Tarxien and Marsaxlokk.
Birkirkara lacked Shaun Bajada, Rowen Muscat and Angus Buhagiar but Trevor Cilia was back on the bench following a long-term injury. Gaetan Spiteri returned for Hamrun Spartans.
The Spartans had the first attempt at goal on the 6th minute when a Massimo Grima long-distance freekick was parried by Michael Fraser. Birkirkara replied with a shot from outside the area by Michael Galea ending high two minutes later.
The Stripes went close once again on 16 minutes when off a cross by Emiliano Lattes, Karl Pulo controlled before his low shot was neutralised by Omar Borg.
Birkirkara were awaded a penalty on 26 minutes after Jovan Vukanic handled the ball inside the area. Ibrahim Babatunde stepped up to try his luck from the penalty spot but his effort was blocked into a corner by Omar Borg.
Five minutes in the second half, Nikolai Chipev had a shot from the left deflected into a corner by Michael Fraser.
However they were not to be denied on 53 minutes when Dene Shields, served by Spiteri, concluded a good move on the right by hitting low past goalkeeper Michael Fraser.
Substitute Rodolfo Kumbrevicius went close for Birkirkara with a header following a cross from the right by Ryan Scicluna on 66 minutes. The Lithuanian striker then had a header hitting the upright off a cross by Joseph Zerafa from the left.
The Stripes levelled matters on 79 minutes when off a perfect pass by Paul Fenech, Rodolfo Kumbrevicius tapped the ball home from close range.
Birkirkara could have notched the winner on 85 minutes when off a Michael Galea cross from the left, Rodolfo Kumbrevicius’ header was saved at point blank by Omar Borg. A minute later, an Emiliano Lattes effort was blocked by a defender and Paul Fenech’s shot off the rebound was parried by the Hamrun custodian. Finally a powerful shot from outside the area by Lattes was cleared into safety by Rupert Mangion.
Omar Borg was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photo: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
HAMRUN Omar Borg, Dragan Milovic, Massimo Grima, Rupert Mangion, Dene Shields, Lee James Agius, Dyson Falzon (84’ Marcelo Pereira), Gaetan Spiteri, Jovan Vukanic, Nikolai Chipev (81’ Roderick Fenech), David Camilleri.
Subs not used: Ivan Casha, Mark Anthony Bonnici, Aaron Attard, Mead Mifsud, Steve Bonnici.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
B’KARA Michael Fraser, Ryan Scicluna, Joseph Zerafa, Patrick Borg, Karl Pulo (63’ Terence Vella), Andrei Agius, Paul Fenech, Nikola Vukanac, Ibrahim Babatunde (63’ Rodolfo Kumbrevicius), Michael Galea, Emiliano Lattes.
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Andrew Decesare, Andreas Galea, Michael Camilleri, Trevor Cilia.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Brank Nisevic
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: Vukanic, Babatunde, M. Galea, Chipev
Scorers: 53’ Dene Shields (H); 79’ Rodolfo Kumbrevicius (B)