Hibernians missed the opportunity to move three points clear on top the BOV Premier League table as they were held in a 1-1 draw by Hamrun Spartans. The Paolites’ fine run consisting of seven successive wins was therefore brought to an end.
It was a fair result as the Spartans never looked inferior to their opponents although they were coming from a disappointing 0-4 defeat to Birkirkara in their last outing.
The Spartans lacked goalkeeper Omar Borg, Roderick Fenech, Steve Bonnici, Dene Shields and the suspended Carlo Polli. On the other hand, Adrian Pulis was missing for Hibernians.
Goalkeeper Andrea Cassar performed a great save on a freekick by Clayton Failla on the 10th minute, turning the ball into a corner.
Playing under constant rain, the two teams hardly created any goal scoring opportunities until six minutes from the end of the first half when Hamrun managed to take the lead thanks to a cross shot by Massimo Grima which beat goalkeeper Mario Muscat.
Kevin Sammut almost doubled the score on the 50th with a shot from outside the area ending just wide.
The Paolites leveled matters on 55 minutes when off an Andrew Cohen corner, there was a short clearance by a defender and Triston Caruana placed the ball at the back of the net with a first-timer.
Marcelo Dias tested Andrea Cassar with a powerful shot from the left but the young Hamrun goalkeeper managed to turn the ball into a corner. On the other side of the pitch, Luis Fernando Silva then tried his luck with a long-distance shot from the right which was tipped into a corner by Mario Muscat on 68 minutes. Four minutes later, off a freekick by David Camilleri, Cadu’s header was saved with particular difficulty by the Hibs goalkeeper before Anderson Ribeiro could connect from close range.
In the remaining minutes, Hibs pushed hard for the winner but the Spartans’ defence ably led by Massimo Grima controlled well.
Finally one minute from time, Bjorn Kristensen was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a header from close range.
Massimo Grima was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HAMRUN Andrea Cassar, Nikica Gacesa, Daniel Zerafa, Massimo Grima, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro (91′ Gaetan Spiteri), Kevin Sammut, Matthew Gauci, Carlos Eduardo Toneto Porcari, Luis Fernando Silva (89′ Lee James Agius), David Camilleri, Gianluca Calabretta.
Subs not used: Jean Claude Debattista, Rupert Mangion, Glenn Azzopardi, Luke Grech, Craig Debattista.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit
Asst. Coach: Vince Carbonaro
HIBS Mario Muscat, Ryan Camilleri, Aaron Xuereb, Edward Herrera, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias (84’ Steve Pisani), Andrew Cohen, Clayton Failla, Bjorn Kristensen, Triston Caruana, Edison Luis dos Santos.
Subs not used: Luke Bonnici, Peter Anizoba, Jonathan Pearson, Ayrton Azzopardi, Dylan Sammut, Diego Balbinot.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Richard Mercieca
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant referees: Konrad Borg, Christopher Francalanza
Fourth official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Silva, Dias, Xuereb, R. Camilleri
Scorers: 39’ Massimo Grima, 55’ Triston Caruana
Balzan Youths scored three in the second half to earn three precious points in a 3-1 win over Marsaxlokk to push the Southseasiders into further trouble.
The Youths move seventh on eleven points, leaving Marsaxlokk second from bottom on seven.
With Louis Cutajar leading the team on the bench as team manager following the resignation of coach Winston Muscat, assistant coach Darren Abdilla and goalkeepers’ coach Mark Tabone, the Southseasiders had Gary Caruana named in the starting line-up. Patrick Borg, Sacha Borg and Clive Brincat were all missing. Rennie Forace was ruled out for Balzan as he serves a one-match ban.
Balzan could have taken the lead on the 8th minute when a Miguel Ciantar header was cleared off the goal line by Carlo Mamo.
Four minutes in the second half, Pedro Calcado tested Reuben Gauci with a direct freekick which was neutralized by the Marsaxlokk custodian.
Balzan managed to break the deadlock on 54 minutes when substitute Roderick Farrugia concluded a good move on the right flank with a shot half-height which gave goalkeeper Reuben Gauci no chance.
The Youths could have doubled the score a minute later when in a swift counter-attack, Kris Bright all alone in front of the goalkeeper, who had rushed to the edge of the area, had his shot blocked and off the rebound, the unmarked Miguel Ciantar hit high.
However on 59 minutes, Balzan were not to be denied when Ciantar served Kris Bright who anticipated a defender and slotted past Gauci.
Four minutes later, the Youths scored the third goal through Dylan Grima whose first time-effort beat Reuben Gauci after Pedrinho stole the ball off Campagnoli.
Marsaxlokk pulled one back when off a cross by Obinna Obiefule, Jean Paul Farrugia placed the ball at the back of the net.
Pedro dos Santos Calcado was voted BOV Player of the Match.
BALZAN Matthew Camilleri, Yessous Camilleri, Bledjon Guga, Jonathan Francica (80′ Bjorn Bondin), Clifton Ciantar (21’ Roderick Farrugia), Nikola Tasic, Dylan Grima, David Fenech, Pedro Dos Santos Calcado, Miguel Ciantar (89′ Silvan Ciscaldi), Kris Bright.
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Fagner Luis Bernardes, Michael Borg, Lydon Micallef.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
M’XLOKK Reuben Gauci, Malcolm Licari, Jonathan Xerri, Carlos Emmanuel Campagnoli, Carlo Mamo, Florent Raimy, Sunday Eboh, Gary Caruana, Martin Deanov, Emiliano Lattes (65′ Jean Paul Farrugia), Obinna Obiefule.
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Modesto Valeriani, Dylan Kokavessis, Jean Claude Vella, Stefan Cutajar, Darrell Grech.
Team Manager: Louis Cutajar
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant referees: William Debattista, Paul Apap
Fourth official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Obiefule, Calcado, Y. Camilleri, Caruana, Xerri, Bright
Scorers: 54′ Roderick Farrugia, 59′ Kris Bright, 63′ Dylan Grima, 79′ Jean Paul Farrugia