Floriana moved three points behind second-placed Hibernians as they returned to winning ways, defeating Hamrun Spartans 4-2 in a highly entertaining game.
The Greens had two new foreign players making their debut, namely Togo defender Eric Akoto and Nigerian striker Onome Sodje. Christian Caruana and Ivan Woods were named in the starting line-up. Christian Cassar was missing as he serves a one-match ban. Hamrun, on the other hand, lacked the suspended Lee James Agius and Gaetan Spiteri and the injured Omar Borg and Roderick Fenech.
The Spartans had the first attempt at goal on the 11th minute as a Rupert Mangion through pass was well connected by Dene Shields whose low shot was well blocked by Manuel Bartolo. Ten minutes later, Shields served Anderson Mendes Ribeiro inside the area but his first time effort went off target.
Hamrun managed to take the lead on 23 minutes when Gianluca Calabretta received a through pass and advanced on the left flank before beating Bartolo with a cross shot which saw the ball hit the far post and ends into the net.
Four minutes later, Floriana levelled matters when off a Pablo Doffo freekick, Clyde Borg controlled the ball and served Manolito Micallef who placed the ball at the back of the net from in front of the goalkeeper.
On the half-hour, Onome Sodje tested Andrea Cassar with a powerful shot and the latter punched the ball to safety.
Five minutes from the end of the first half, Floriana forged ahead when a Pablo Doffo freekick from outside the penalty area was acrobatically connected by Christian Caruana who sent the ball into the net.
Hamrun restored equilibrium a minute later thanks to Carlo Polli whose conclusion was deflected by defender Duncan Pisani to end at the back of the net.
Two minutes in the second half, Pablo Doffo tried his luck with a shot from outside the area ending high over the crossbar. A minute later, Rupert Mangion served Calabretta whose diagonal shot was blocked by the Floriana keeper. A Rupert Mangion effort from outside the area was then deflected into a corner on 56 minutes. Two minutes later, on the other side of the pitch, Christian Caruana headed just over the bar off a cross by Doffo.
Anderson Mendes Ribeiro had a first-timer blocked by Manuel Bartolo following a Massimo Grima feekick on 61 minutes. Two minteus later, a Kevin Sammut effort, served by Ribeiro, ended high. Ivan Woods then served Sodje who advanced on the right, outrunning Andrea Cassar but the Nigerian striker’s attempt was cleared off the touch line by Steve Bonnici.
Floriana went 3-2 ahead on 67 minutes when off a cross by Andre Grabowski, Onome Sodje headed the ball past Cassar.
On 72 minutes, Ivan Woods sent a through pass for Andre Grabowski who managed to slot the ball past goalkeeper Andrea Cassar.
Andre Grabowski was voted BOV Player of the Match.
FLORIANA Manuel Bartolo. Eric Akoto, Owen Bugeja, Pablo Doffo, Manolito Micallef, Christian Caruana (71′ Thomas Paris), Ivan Woods (86′ John Mintoff), Duncan Pisani (46′ Joseph Borg), Andre Grabowski, Clyde Borg, Onome Sodje.
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Brooke Farrugia, Ryan Darmanin, Wilko Risser.
Coach: Michael Woods
Assistant Coach: Frank Schembri
HAMRUN Andrea Cassar, Steve Bonnici, Matthew Gauci, Nikica Gacesa (85′ Ryan Spiteri), Massimo Grima, Rupert Mangion (90′ Glen Azzopardi), Carlo Polli, Kevin Sammut, Gianluca Calabretta (75′ David Camilleri), Anderson Mendes Riberio, Dene Shields.
Subs not used: Jean Claude Debattista, Luis Fernando Silva, Craig Debattista, Clayton Micallef.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit
Assistant Coach: Vince Carbonaro
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: Caruana, Polli, Doffo
Scorers: 23′ Gianluca Calabretta; 27’ Manolito Micallef; 40’ Christian Caruana; 41’ Carlo Polli; 67’ Onome Sodje, 72′ Andre Grabowski
A brace by Danial Mitev enabled Sliema Wanderers to return to winning ways as they registered a 2-0 win over Marsaxlokk. The Blues join Birkirkara in fourth place on 23 points, three ahead of Balzan Youths and Qormi.
Although they were clearly a better side, the Blues failed to convert their superiority into goals and three minutes from time, risked conceding the equaliser when the Southseasiders were awarded a penalty. However in stoppage time, they managed to double the score.
Marsaxlokk lacked Carlo Mamo and Jonathan Xerri. Sliema, on the other hand, welcomed back Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza but Clifford Gatt Baldacchino was still unavailable as he is recovering from an injury.
The Wanderers went close on the 14th minute with Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza who entered the penalty area from the right and rounded the goalkeeper Christian Cassar but the latter somehow managed to deflect the ball into a corner. Cassar then performed good saves on Mifsud Triganza and Mitev.
Sliema were awarded a penalty on 25 minutes when Sacha Borg brought Beppe Muscat down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Danial Mitev converted.
Roderick Bajada tried his luck with a powerful shot which scraped past the post on the 69th minute. A minute later, Mitev failed to connect off an inviting cross by Bajada and the ball was cleared into a corner by a defender.
A direct free kick by Modesto Valeriani from the left was neutralised by Sliema goalkeeper Henry Bonello on 75 minutes. A minute later, a Danial Mitev shot from outside the area was parried by Cassar. The Marsaxlokk custodian then turned into a corner another fine Mitev effort on 82 minutes.
Three minutes from time, Marsaxlokk had an excellent opportunity to equalise when they were awarded a penalty after Mark Scerri handled the ball inside the area. However Malcolm Licari’s effort from the penalty spot hit the crossbar. Off the rebound, Modesto Valeriani headed high.
Deep into stoppage time, Danial Mitev sealed the issue for Sliema as he beat Christian Cassar with a shot from just inside the area to double the score.
Christian Cassar was voted BOV Player of the Match.
M‘XLOKK Christian Cassar, Modesto Valeriani, Patrick Borg, Clive Brincat, Sacha Borg, Kevin Polidano, Sunday Eboh, Malcolm Licari, Gary Caruana (46‘ Dylan Kokavessis), Jean Paul Farrugia, Darrell Grech (59’ Stefan Cutajar).
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci, Jean Claude Vella, Dylan Attard, Darren Attard, Fabian Baldacchino.
Coach: Anton Cremona
Assistant Coach: Louis Cutajar
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Josef Mifsud, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (78‘ Alex Muscat), Danial Mitev, Steve Bezzina, Jackson Lima Sequeira, Rumen Galabov, Roderick Bajada (84‘ Ryan Grech), Jorge Santos Silva, Cleavon Frendo (55‘ Mark Scerri), Beppe Muscat.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Julian Briffa, Andrew Caligari, Jeremiah Ani.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Assistant Coach: Saviour Debono Grech
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Joe Camilleri, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Galabov, Scerri, Farrugia, Bonello
Scorers: 25’ Danial Mitev (pen), 90′ Danial Mitev