Balzan Youths bounced back from the defeat to Mosta as they registered a fine 3-2 win over Hibernians to join Sliema Wanderers and Qormi in fifth place.
The Paolites, on the other hand, dropped another three important points and stay three points behind Valletta although the latter have a game in hand. This was the first defeat for Mark Miller’s side after claiming ten wins and four draws out of the first fourteen matches.
Brazilians Diego Balbinot and Marcelo Dias were missing for Hibernians together with Adrian Pulis. Balzan, on the other hand, lacked Roderick Farrugia and Nikola Tasic.
The Paolites could have taken the lead on the 9th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Bledjon Guga handled the ball inside the area. From the penalty spot, Clayton Failla’s effort was neutralised by Matthew Camilleri.
Bjorn Bondin was unlucky to hit the upright for Balzan with a long-distance shot one minute later.
On the half-hour, a diagonal shot from the right by Kris Bright ended wide.
Matthew Camilleri was superb in blocking a powerful shot by Tarabai on 33 minutes and off the rebound, blocking once again a Steve Pisani effort into a corner. However from the resulting corner, Camilleri failed to stop Andrew Cohen’s effort to allow Hibernians to take the lead.
Balzan levelled matters just before the end of the first half when off a Dylan Grima cross from the right, Kris Bright slotted the ball past goalkeeper Mario Muscat.
Six minutes in the second half, Balzan Youths went 2-1 ahead when Dylan Grima released Fagner Lins Bernardes on the right and the latter advanced into the area before beating the Hibs goalkeeper with a rising shot.
Triston Caruana hit the crossbar with a shot from outside the area on 64 minutes and a few seconds later, Cohen hit the crossbar once again with a good header.
The Paolites were awarded another penalty on 77 minutes after a defender handled the ball following a shot by Steve Pisani. From the penalty spot, Edison Luis dos Santos made no mistake to make it 2-2.
Two minutes from time, Mario Muscat performed a fine save on a Pedro dos Santos Calcado freekick but referee Trustin Farrugia Cann awarded Balzan a penalty for a hands inside the area. From the penalty spot, Pedrinho placed the ball at the back of the net to hand Balzan the three points.
Matthew Camilleri was voted BOV Player of the Match.
BALZAN Matthew Camilleri, Yessous Camilleri, Jonathan Francica, Bledjon Guga, Rennie Forace, Bjorn Bondin, Dylan Grima, David Fenech (67’ Clifton Ciantar), Fagner Lins Bernardes (92’ Miguel Ciantar), Pedro dos Santos Calcado (93’ Silvan Ciscaldi), Kris Bright.
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Michael Borg, Lydon Micallef, Nicholas Zammit.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
HIBS Mario Muscat, Edward Herrera, Rodolfo Soares, Ryan Camilleri (46’ Jonathan Pearson), Steve Pisani, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Triston Caruana, Andrew Cohen, Johann Bezzina (62’ Peter Anizoba), Edison Luis dos Santos.
Subs not used: Luke Bonnici, Scott Chircop, Keith Tanti, Ayrton Azzopardi, Brandon Muscat.
Coach: Mark Miller
Assistant Coach: Richard Mercieca
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant referees: Alan Camilleri, Alex Grech
Fourth official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Francica, Bright, Grima, Kristensen, Herrera, Tarabai
Scorers: 34’ Andrew Cohen, 45’ Kris Bright, 51’ Fagner Lins Bernardes, 78’ Edison Luis dos Santos (pen), 89’ Pedro dos Santos Calcado (pen)
A penalty by Terence Vella two minutes from the end of the first half enabled Birkirkara to return to winning ways as they defeated Mqabba 1-0.
Birkirkara lacked Angus Buhagiar, Dragan Perisic and the suspended Rodrigo Pereira, Andrew Decesare and Moises Avila Perez but welcomed back Paul Fenech and Shaun Bajada. Mqabba, on the other hand, once again lacked Rene Duca.
The Stripes had the first attempt at goal with Paul Fenech hitting high when served by Shodiya. Mqabba replied with a Bojan Mamic effort which was neutralised by goalkeeper Aleksandar Canovic.
Three minutes from the end of the first half, Birkirkara were awarded a penalty after Terence Vella was brought down inside the area by goalkeeper Kris Calleja. From the penalty spot, Vella made no mistake to put the Stripes ahead.
Shola Shodiya went close to increasing the lead on the 79 minute after concluding a good run on the left flank with a diagonal shot which scraped past the post.
Deep into added time, Shola Shodiya released Trevor Cilia on the right but the latter’s diagonal shot ended wide.
Paul Fenech was voted BOV Player of the Match.
B’KARA Aleksandar Canovic, Ryan Camenzuli, Rowen Muscat (67’ Alan Tabone), Gareth Sciberras, Joseph Zerafa, Shaun Bajada, Paul Fenech, Ryan Scicluna, Terence Vella (73’ Trevor Cilia), Leighton Grech (91’ Michael Camilleri), Shola Shodiya.
Subs not used: Jorge Mora, McAllister Clinch, David Spiteri, Andreas Cassar.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Peter Pullicino
MQABBA Kris Calleja, Marko Potezica, Pierre Grima, Branislav Timotic, Marlon Briffa (81’ John Paul Muscat), David Azzopardi, Thiago dos Santos Mazzitelli, Claudio Calleja (82’ Clayton Micallef), Mauro Bonnici, Ryan Sammut, Bojan Mamic (65’ Shawn Magro).
Subs not used: Reuben Cini, Mark Anthony Psaila, Omar Farrugia, Mark Fenech.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Assistant Coach: Renzo Kerr Cumbo
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant referees: Mariano Debono, Sammy Attard
Fourth official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: M. Briffa, K. Calleja, C. Calleja, L. Grech
Scorers: 43’ Terence Vella