Floriana moved to just two pointe behind second-placed Hibernains as they registered a comfortable 4-0 win over wooden-spoonists Marsaxlokk.
This was the fifth win in six matches for the team led by Michael Woods. On the other hand, for Marsaxlokk, this was the fourth consecutive defeat.
Marsaxlokk lacked Reuben Gauci, Carlo Mamo and Malcolm Licari who joined Birkirkara, Tarxien and Floriana respectively. Licari made his debut for the Greens when he was included as a substitute. Floriana lacked the suspended Christian Cassar and Pablo Doffo.
The Greens managed to take the lead after just three minutes when Andre Grabowski got hold of the ball in midfield, advanced into the area, rounding Cassar and placing the ball at the back of the net.
On the 11th, goalkeeper Christian Cassar rushed to the edge of the area to clear the ball into safety as Onome Sodje was advancing all alone on the right after receiving a through pass. A powerful shot by Sodje from the right hit the upright two minutes later.
On 23 minutes, Andre Grabowski gained possession on the left, just outside the area, but the Marsaxlokk goalkeeper managed to block the Swedish striker’s effort. A few seconds later, an angled shot by Sodje ended just wide.
Grabowski missed a fine opportunity when released by Woods as he tried to conclude, rather than serve Sodje, with Cassar performing an easy save on the 29th minute. Two minutes later, a powerful drive by Manolito Micallef hit the crossbar.
Floriana doubled the score on 41 minutes when off a cross by Grabowski from the left, Sodje headed the ball in the direction of Manolito Micallef whose acrobatic shot beat the Marsaxlokk custodian.
Two minutes in the second half, Onome Sodje pounced on a short clearance, pulled to the left but his goal-bound shot was somehow blocked into a corner by a defender.
Floriana increased the lead on 63 minutes thanks to John Mintoff who received a perfect through pass, rounded the goalkeeper and placed the ball at the back of the net.
One minute from time, Floriana were awarded a penalty after Farrugia handled the ball inside the area. From the penalty spot, Ivan Woods made no mistake to make it 4-0.
Christian Cassar was voted BOV Player of the Match.
M’XLOKK Christian Cassar, Modesto Valeriani, Clive Brincat (45+1’ Stefan Cutajar), Patrick Borg, Jonathan Xerri, Trevor Templeman, Sunday Eboh (82′ Manuel Caruana), Jean Paul Farrugia, Gary Caruana, Darrell Grech (55′ Craig Debattista), Sacha Borg.
Subs not used: Christian Gafa, Kevin Polidano, Dylan Attard, Paul Paris.
Coach: Anton Cremona
Asst. Referee: Louis Cutajar
FLORIANA Manuel Bartolo, Owen Bugeja, Manolito Micallef, Duncan Pisani, Eric Akoto, Christian Cassar, Andre Grabowski (70′ Malcolm Licari), Thomas Paris (67′ Clyde Borg), Onome Sodje (62′ Joseph Borg), Ivan Woods, John Mintoff.
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Francesco Guzman, Luigi Farrugia, Ryan Darmanin.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Frank Schembri
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant referees: Konrad Borg, Duncan Sultana
Fourth official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: T. Paris, Sodje, P. Borg
Scorers: 3’ Andre Grabowski, 41’ Manolito Micallef, 63′ John Mintoff
A goal on the 90th minute by substitute Jerry Ani gave ten-man Sliema three precious points as they defeated Birkirkara 1-0 to move three points ahead of the Stripes and Qormi.
Two players were making their debut – goalkeeper Reuben Gauci for Birkirkara and Ryan Fenech for Sliema. The Wanderers lacked Jackson Lima Sequeira and Jorge Santos Silva as both made an official request for their release over unpaid salaries.
The Blues had the first attempt at goal on the 2nd minute when Roderick Bajada served Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza whose low diagonal shot was blocked by Reuben Gauci. On the 20th,
a frekick by Danial Mitev was blocked by Reuben Gauci. Eight minutes later, another Mitev effort from outside the area ended high.
On the other side of the pitch, on 34 minutes, Henry Bonello came to the rescue, anticipating Terence Vella on the edge of the penalty box and clearing the ball into safety. A minute later, a low shot by Moises Avila Perez was blocked by the Sliema custodian. Paul Fenech concluded just wide from outside the area on 41 minutes. Two minutes later, Bonello performed a good save on a Rowen Muscat freekick.
Just before the end of the first half, the Wanderers were reduced to ten men as Beppe Muscat received a second yellow card and was therefore sent off.
On 64 minutes, a long-distance effort by Leighton Grech just missed the target. A minute later, Gauci turned into a corner a Jerry Ani effort. Shaun Bajada, served by Alan Tabone, had a good shot ending just wide on 69 minutes. Six minutes later, a Rowen Muscat effort ended high.
On the 90th, Sliema finally managed to break the deadlock when off a Danial Mitev cross from the left, Jeremiah Ani headed home past Gauci.
Alan Tabone was voted BOV Player of the Match.
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Josef Mifsud, Mark Scerri, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (55′ Jeremiah Ani), Danial Mitev, Steve Bezzina, Ryan Fenech (78′ Ryan Grech), Rumen Galabov, Roderick Bajada, Cleaven Frendo (46′ Clifford Gatt Baldacchino), Beppe Muscat.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Ryan Dalli, Andrew Caligari, Timothy Thomas.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Assistant Coach: Saviour Debono Grech.
B’KARA Reuben Gauci, Angus Buhagiar, Terence Vella (60′ Leighton Grech), Joseph Zerafa (26’ Ryan Scicluna), Shaun Bajada, Paul Fenech, Gareth Sciberras, Alan Tabone (85′ Trevor Cilia), Rowen Muscat, Rodrigo Pereira, Moises Avila-Perez.
Subs not used: Karl Magri, David Spiteri, Fabian Zammit, Michael Camillieri.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Peter Pullicino
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referee: Alan Camilleri, Alex Grech
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Zerafa, B. Muscat, Sciberras, Tabone, Bajada
Red Cards: 45′ Beppe Muscat