Leaders Valletta dropped another two points as they were held in a 1-1 draw by Balzan. The third 1-1 draw for the Citizens in the last four matches, leaving them five points ahead of Mosta and Birkirkara.
Balzan, on the other hand, extended their positive run to five matches without defeat although they are still eighth.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
Matthew Camilleri, Jonathan Francica, Renato Conceicao, Rennie Forace and Elton Alexandre da Silva were all ruled out for Balzan but Matthew Mendy, Jamie Pace and Dylan Grima were back after serving a one-match ban. Valletta, on the other hand, lacked Steve Borg, Ian Azzopardi and Dyson Falzon.
Valletta took the lead on the 11th minute when off a Shaun Bajada freekick from the right, Denni Rocha dos Santos headed the ball past goalkeeper Fredrick Tabone.
However one minute later, Balzan equalised when Pedro dos Santos Calcado, served by Matthew Mendy on the left inside the area, slotted the ball past goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo.
Balzan went close once again on 25 minutes with Christian Caruana heading just wide off a freekick by Pedrinho. A powerful shot by Gabriel on 38 minutes was partially saved by Fredrick Tabone and off the rebound, Denni’s cross was well-met by Roderick Briffa whose header was blocked by the Balzan goalkeeper.
A Pedrinho freekick for Balzan ended just over the bar one minute from half-time and in added time, a swift counter-attack led by Christian Caruana, Martin Deyanov and Jamie Pace ended with the former Valletta midfielder’s powerful shot saved with particular difficulty by the Valletta custodian.
Balzan maintained the pressure and went close with a Christian Caruana effort from the left two minutes in the second half. Following a good run on the right flank by Pedrinho on 68 minutes, he sent an inviting pass but Ryan Fenech cleared the ball into safety before a Balzan player could connect.
One minute in added time, Roderick Briffa put substitute Leandro Almeida all alone in front of goalkeeper Fredrick Tabone but the Brazilian player hit incredibly high. The same player then just failed to connect off an inviting cross by Denni from the right.
Fredrick Tabone was voted BOV Player of the Match.
VALLETTA Manuel Bartolo, Ricardo Barreto da Rocha Filho, Kurt Magro (62’ Edmond Agius), William Barbosa (79’ Leandro da Silva Almeida), Ryan Fenech, Joao Gabriel da Silva, Denni Rocha dos Santos, Michael Mifsud, Shaun Bajada (85’ Ian Zammit), Roderick Briffa, Jonathan Caruana.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Llywelyn Cremona, Isaac Zammit, Gilbert Agius.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius
BALZAN Fredrick Tabone, Yessous Camilleri, Stefan Giglio, Clint Micallef (56’ Aaron Agius), Matthew Mendy, Dylan Grima, Bjorn Bondin, Jamie Pace, Christian Caruana (63’ Jacob Dominico Borg), Martin Deyanov (78’ Malcolm Licari), Pedro dos Santos Calcado.
Subs not used: Matteo Farrugia, Michael Borg, Kevin Camilleri, Cruyff Grixti.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Luke Portelli
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Mendy, Briffa, Bondin, Caruana, Ricardo Filho
Scorers: 11’ Denni Rocha dos Santos (V); 12’ Pedro dos Santos Calcado (B)
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
Meanwhile Mosta scored four in the second half to register a comfortable 5-0 win over Melita and join Birkirkara in second place.
Melita somehow managed to control their opponents during the first half but once again suffered another heavy defeat.
For this game, Mosta coach Steve D’Amato could not count on Bryan Agius and Luke Dimech. Michael Martin, on the other hand, was once again missing for Melita.
The Blues managed to take the lead on the 19th minute when Danail Mitev served Obinna Obiefule who rounded a defender before hitting past goalkeeper Matthew Sapiano.
The Amateurs replied with a Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho header on 29 minutes ending just over the bar.
Mosta doubled the score twelve minutes in the second half when a Daniel Bogdanovic effort hit the crossbar and Obinna Obiefule took the rebound, hitting home.
Daniel Bogdanovic increased the lead for Mosta on 74 minutes when off a cross from the right by Ousseni Zongo, his close-range header was not held by Sapiano with the ball ending at the back of the net.
Mosta were then awarded a penalty after Carlos Campagnoli was brought down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Ousseni Zongo converted to make it 4-0.
One minute from time, Daniel Bogdanovic could have added another goal but his fine curved shot from the left ended just wide.
Two minutes in added time, Mosta scored the fifth goal thanks to a penalty by Daniel Bogdanovic after Karl Vella Petroni floored Jonathan Bajada inside the area.
Obinna Obiefule was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MELITA Matthew Sapiano, Matthew Borg (81’ Andrew Caruana Scicluna), Ivan Tufegdzic, Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho, Michael Valenzia, Karl Vella Petroni, Nigel Rizzo (62’ Luke Sammut), Julian Galea, Luke Micallef, Jovan Vukanic (81’ Rudi Alhinho), Jose Luis Armaro Negrin.
Subs not used: Karl Zahra, George Gribbon, Maxime Batel, Michael Cachia.
Coach: Martin Gregory
Asst. Coach: Carmel Busuttil
MOSTA Justin Haber, Mano Micallef, Alex Cini, Steve Bezzina, Steve Onyii Chiemeka, Ryan Grech, Firas Aboulezz (82’ Jonathan Bajada), Daniel Bogdanovic, Danail Mitev (67’ Carlos Campagnoli), Ousseni Zongo (81’ David Maia dos Santos), Obinna Obiefule.
Subs not used: Kurt Rizzo, Kurt Zammit, Giancarlo Sammut, Ferdinando Apap.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Obiefule, Chiemeka, Aboulezz, Vukanic
Scorers: 19’ Obinna Obiefule, 57’ Obinna Obiefule, 74’ Daniel Bogdanovic, 76’ Ousseni Zongo pen, 90+2’ Daniel Bogdanovic pen