Rabat Ajax hold Valletta in 1-1 draw — Comfortable win for Sliema over neighbours Melita

Rabat Ajax earned their third point in the BOV Premier League as they held leaders Valletta in a 1-1 draw in a top-bottom clash at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.

The Magpies are still anchored at the bottom of the table but this result should be a morale-booster ahead of the forthcoming fixtures. For Valletta, this was a highly disappointing result as they missed the opportunity to move nine points clear.

Photos: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA

Rabat lacked Christopher Schembri, Adam Smeir, Ryan Micallef and Justin Felice but Patrick Borg was back in squad after serving a three-match ban. Ian Azzopardi and Edmond Agius were missing for Valletta.

The Magpies had the first attempt at goal with a Clifford Gauci effort, served by Manuel Moral Fuster, deflected into a corner by Bartolo on the 7th minute. Valletta replied with a low shot by Ryan Fenech from the right which scraped past the post. Nerijus Astrauskas then took a loose ball following an erratic pass by an opponent, advanced into the area but his conclusion was neutralised by Manuel Bartolo. The Citizens went close with a Ryan Fenech effort which was cleared into safety by a defender.

Valletta finally managed to break the deadlock eight minutes in the second half thanks to Gabriel da Silva, served by Shaun Bajada, whose diagonal shot from the left beat the Rabat goalkeeper.

Gabriel went close once again for Valletta on 56 minutes with a rising shot from the left ending just wide.

Two minutes later, Rabat equalised when off a Heiner Backhaus freekick from the right, Ivan Carapic headed the ball home past Bartolo.

On the 70th, William Barbosa had a first attempt blocked by a defender and off the rebound, Gabriel’s effort was neutralised by Mintoff.

A freekick by William Barbosa ended high on 87 minutes and three minutes later, Michael Mifsud concluded a solo effort with a rising shot ending high. In added time, a Leandro Almeida shot from outside the area was parried by the Rabat goalkeeper.

Heiner Backhaus was voted BOV Player of the Match.

Photos: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA

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VALLETTA Manuel Bartolo, Ricardo Barreto da Rocha Filho, Kurt Magro, Steve Borg (45’ Dyson Falzon), Jonathan Caruana, William Barbosa, Ryan Fenech, Gabriel da Silva, Denni Rocha dos Santos (75’ Leandro da Silva Almeida), Michael Mifsud, Shaun Bajada (71’ Ian Zammit).
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Llywelyn Cremona, Isaac Zammit, Roderick Briffa.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius

RABAT Sean Mintoff, Ivan Carapic, Joseph Caruana, Heiner Backhaus, Nerijus Astrauskas (72’ Wayne Borg), Manuel Moral Fuster (92’ Gaetano Gesualdi), Dylan Falzon, Clive Brincat, Yan Cauchi, David Azzopardi, Clifford Gauci.
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Neil Farrugia, Patrick Borg, Kurt Muscat, Shaun Gauci.
Coach: Silvio Vella

Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Magro, Mintoff, Gauci
Scorers: 53′ Joao Gabriel da Silva (V); 58’ Ivan Carapic (R)
Attendance: 813

Meanwhile Sliema Wanderers bounced back from the shock defeat to Balzan as they registered a comfortable 4-0 win over neighbours Melita.

A win which puts Alfonso Greco’s side in joint-second place with Birkirkara and Hibernians. Melita, on the other hand, stay second from bottom.

Goalkeeper Henry Bonello was back for Sliema but Matias Muchardi was missing as he served a one-match ban. Michael Martin and Matthew Borg were missing for Melita.

The Wanderers managed to take the lead on the 6th minute when Ariel Laudisi sent Ivan Woods through and the latter hit low past goalkeeper Matthew Sapiano.

Six minutes later, the Blues doubled the score when Ariel Laudisi was brought down inside the area by Karl Vella Petroni and from the penalty spot, Ivan Woods converted.

Twelve minutes in the second half, Sliema went close once again with a Miguel Ciantar freekick which was turned into a corner by Matthew Sapiano.

One minute later, Sliema scored the third goal when Luigi Ruggiero concluded a solo effort with a shot from outside the area half height to beat the Melita custodian.

The Wanderers increased the lead on 68 minutes when Luigi Ruggiero served substitute Alain Faccini from the right and the latter controlled the ball, rounded Matthew Sapiano and placing the ball at the back of the net.

Five minutes from time, Melita were awarded a penalty after Clifford Gatt Baldacchino floored Jose Luis Armaro Negrin but the Spanish striker’s effort from the penalty spot hit the crossbar.

Luigi Ruggiero was voted BOV Player of the Match.

Photos: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA

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SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat, Paltemio Barbetti, Andrew Decesare, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ivan Woods (37’ Mark Scerri), Luigi Ruggiero, Ariel Laudisi (60’ Alain Faccini), Miguel Ciantar, Beppe Muscat, Stefano Bianciardi (39’ Josef Mifsud).
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Luca Martinelli, John Mintoff, Omar El Ghaouti.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Asst. Coach: Jo Jo Bajada

MELITA Matthew Sapiano, Karl Vella Petroni, Ivan Tufegdzic, George Gribbon, Jovan Vukanic, Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho, Luke Micallef, Jose Luis Armaro Negrin, Julian Galea, Luke Sammut (52’ Michael Valenzia), Nigel Rizzo.
Subs not used: Andrew Abela, Maxime Batel, Andrew Caruana Scicluna, Michael Cachia, Marc Attard, Rudi Alhinho.
Coach: Martin Gregory
Asst. Coach: Carmel Busuttil

Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Vella Petroni, Barbetti, Rizzo, Decesare, Gatt Baldacchino
Scorers: 6′ Ivan Woods, 12′ Ivan Woods pen, 58′ Luigi Ruggiero, 68’ Alain Faccini