Newly-promoted Rabat Ajax earned their second point as they held Hamrun Spartans in a 1-1 draw.
Shots at goal were rare for long stretches but the game came to life in the dying minutes as the Spartans forged ahead three minutes from time with Rabat notching the equaliser on the 90th.
Photos: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
The Magpies lacked Clive Brincat, Patrick Borg and Ryan Micallef while for Hamrun, the only unavailable player was the injured Terence Scerri.
Rabat had the first serious goal scoring opportunity when Heiner Backhaus’ direct freekick hit the upright with Andrea Cassar beaten on the 20th. Hamrun replied with a Terence Vella effort on 38 minutes which ended just wide.
Ten minutes in the second half, an Angel Yoshev freekick ended high for Hamrun while on the hour, a Roderick Fenech effort ended just over the bar. Rabat replied with a Adam Smeir conclusion from outside the area ending wide. Then on 71 minutes, Fuster released Astrauskas but the latter’s shot was neutralised by Cassar. Jonathan Azzopardi performed a good save on Gianluca Calabretta on 78 minutes.
Three minutes from time, Hamrun managed to break the deadlock when they were awarded a penalty after Terence Vella was brought down inside the area by Dylan Falzon and from the penalty spot, Massimo Grima converted.
Rabat equalised on the 90th when off a Heiner Backhaus freekick, Adam Smeir’s powerful shot from outside the area gave goalkeeper Andrea Cassar no chance.
Two minutes in stoppage time, Azzopardi managed to deflect Massimo Grima’s powerful drive. On the other side of the pitch, a Heiner Backhaus freekick ended just over the bar.
Heiner Backhaus was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HAMRUN Andrea Cassar, Daniel Zerafa (78’ David Camilleri), Massimo Grima, Terence Vella, Gianluca Calabretta (82’ Adrian Borg), Adrian Ivanov, Roderick Fenech, Lyubomir Vitanov, Angel Yoshev, Nikolay Bozhov, Richard Brightwell (55’ Ryan Spiteri).
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Luke Grech, Gianluca Debattista, Anton Vergilov.
Coach: Stefan Sultana
Asst. Coach: Atanas Marinov
RABAT Jonathan Azzopardi, Gaetano Gesualdi (92’ Shaun Gauci), Christopher Schembri, Ivan Carapic, Heiner Backhaus, Justin Felice (67’ Nerijus Astrauskas), Adam Smeir, Manuel Moral Fuster (82’ Joseph Caruana), Dylan Falzon, Yan Cauchi, David Azzopardi.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Christian Muscat, Wayne Borg, Clifford Gauci.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joseph Galea
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Alex Grech
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Vitanov, Cauchi, Bozhov, Vella, Backhaus
Scorers: 87’ Massimo Grima (pen) (H); 90’ Adam Smeir (R)
Photos: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
Meanwhile Floriana and Qormi earned a point each as they shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw. A draw which keeps the Greens two points ahead of Qormi.
Former Floriana coach Joe Brincat made his debut for Qormi in his new role as assistant coach to Stephen Azzopardi. They lacked Triston Caruana who is yet to recover from an injury. Aaron Brown and Kane Farrugia were missing for Floriana but Clyde Borg was back after serving a one-match ban.
Qormi managed to take the lead on the 4th minute when a Gaetan Spiteri effort was not held by goalkeeper Jonathan Debono and off the rebound, Vincenzo Pisani slammed the ball home.
Floriana levelled matters on 14 minutes thanks to a direct freekick by Aman Verma which beat goalkeeper Steve Sultana.
A diagonal shot by Leighton Grech from the right ended just wide on the 21st minute. An Abubakar Bello-Osagie effort was then blocked into a corner by Tyrone Farrugia on 37 minutes.
Early in the second half, Jonathan Debono turned into a corner in style a Vincenzo Pisani effort.
On 62 minutes, Qormi regained the lead when off a Joseph Chetcuti cross from the left, Vincenzo Pisani controlled the ball and slotted past Jonathan Debono.
Three minutes later, the Greens restored equilibrium thanks to Akanni-Sunday Wasiu who received a pass from the right and hit low with the shot proving too strong for Steve Sultana.
Trevor Cilia tried his luck with a shot from outside the area ending just wide on 68 minutes. Substitute Sebastian Siritto’s fine back-heel effort was cleared off the goal line by Tyrone Farrugia on 84 minutes.
Vincenzo Pisani was voted BOV Player of the Match.
FLORIANA Jonathan Debono, Tyrone Farrugia, Duncan Pisani, Owen Bugeja, Carl Tremarco, Valdo Alhinho, Aman Verma, Trevor Cilia, Akanni-Sunday Wasiu, Ryan Darmanin, Clyde Borg (79’ Thomas Paris).
Subs not used: Jurgen Micallef, Francesco Guzman, Sacha Borg, Mark Spiteri, Joseph Borg, Jermain Brincat.
Team Manager: Alan Lewer
QORMI Steve Sultana, Kris Thackray, Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo, Vincenzo Pisani, Abubakar Bello-Osagie (72’ Sebastian Aurelio Siritto), Luke Sciberras, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Gaetan Spiteri (55’ Joseph Chetcuti), Jonathan Bondin, Leighton Grech (83’ Matthew Gauci).
Subs not used: Matthew Farrugia, Carmelo Farrugia, Alessio Cassar, Gabriel Buttigieg.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Asst. Coach: Joe Brincat
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Emmanuel Grech
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Tremarco, Grech, Paris
Scorers: 4’ Vincenzo Pisani (Q); 14’ Aman Verma (F); 62’ Vincenzo Pisani (Q); 65’ Akanni-Sunday Wasiu (F)