Floriana’s disappointing run continued as they failed to beat Melita with the two teams sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw.
The Greens took an early lead but the Amateurs, for the first time under the guidance of Spanish team-manager Patxi Salinas, showed greater determination and turned the score in their favour. However Floriana finally managed to earn a point from time game. A point which put them on the 10-point mark.
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Floriana coach Stephen Azzopardi handed Brazilian forward Igor Coronado his debut but could not count on Owen Bugeja, Kane Farrugia, Carl Tremarco, Valdo Alhinho and Trevor Cilia.
Floriana took the lead on the 5th minute when off a cross by Aman Verma, Ryan Darmanin scored with a fine overhead kick with the ball hitting the foot of the upright before ending at the back of the net.
Melita levelled matters on the 13th when Jose Luis Armaro Negrin received the ball just in front of the goalkeeper but served Julian Galea who placed the ball at the back of the net from close range.
The Amateurs went close once again with Negrin serving Julian Galea whose low shot was deflected into a corner on 33 minutes. Jovan Vukanic’s attempt direct from the resulting corner ended just wide following a slight deflection. Four minutes later, in a counter-attack for Melita, Julian Galea served Luke Micallef on the right and the latter’s shot was blocked into a corner by Warner.
Melita forged ahead one minute from the end of the first half when Spanish striker Jose Luis Armaro Negrin concluded a good run on the right with a fine rising shot which gave goalkeeper Tony Warner no chance.
Ryan Darmanin released Igor Coronado on the left on the 70th minute but the latter’s effort was turned into a corner in style by Matthew Sapiano. A shot from outside the area by the Brazilian striker ended just wide a minute later. Aman Verma was unlucky to have a powerful shot blocked by Sapiano aided by the crossbar on 76 minutes.
Floriana equalised two minutes later when Clyde Borg served Ryan Darmanin from the left and the latter slotted past Sapiano as the Melita rear-guard hesitated in trying to clear the ball into safety.
In added time, the Greens appealed for a penalty after a defender handled the ball inside the area. Floriana president Justin Attard and Melita team manager Patxi Salinas were sent off the bench.
Jose Luis Armaro Negrin was voted BOV Player of the Match.
FLORIANA Tony Warner, Duncan Pisani, Tyrone Farrugia, Sacha Borg, Thomas Paris, Aman Verma, Joseph Borg (46’ Mark Spiteri), Igor Coronado, Clyde Borg, Brooke Farrugia, Ryan Darmanin.
Subs not used: Jonathan Debono, Mario Eriksson, Francesco Guzman, Manuel Briffa, Luke Scorfna, Isaac Galea.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Asst. Coach: Alan Keeling
MELITA Matthew Sapiano, George Gribbon, Ivan Tufegdzic, Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho, Matthew Borg, Jovan Vukanic, Nigel Rizzo (87’ Michael Martin), Julian Galea, Luke Micallef (67’ Tobias Terpougoff), Jose Luis Armaro Negrin, Michael Valenzia (74’ Andrew Caruana Scicluna).
Subs not used: Karl Zahra, Karl Vella Petroni, Rudi Alhinho, Luke Sammut.
Coach: Alfred Zammit
Team Manager: Patxi Salinas
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Negrin, Rizzo, Pisani, S. Borg, Valenzia, T. Farrugia, J. Galea
Scorers: 5’ Ryan Darmanin (F); 13’ Julian Galea (M); 44’ Jose Luis Armaro Negrin (M)
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Hibernians moved second as they defeated Hamrun Spartans 2-1. The Paolites move just three points behind leaders Valletta, two ahead of Sliema and Birkirkara who however have a game in hand.
For Hamrun, this was a second consecutive defeat and they remain eighth, two points behind Balzan and three ahead of Floriana.
Marcelo Dias was missing for Hibernians as he served a one-match ban. Hamrun, on the other hand, lacked Lyubomir Vitanov.
Hibernians took the lead on the 8th minute thanks to Andrew Cohen whose fine shot from the edge of the area beat Andrea Cassar.
On the 20th minute, Brazilian striker Anderson Mendes Ribeiro doubled the score with a good shot after receiving a cross from the right.
Jackson Lima went close for the Paolites six minutes in the second half with a powerful shot which was blocked into a corner by Andrea Cassar. From the resulting corner by Jackson Lima, Rodolfo Soares headed wide.
The Spartans pulled one back on 66 minutes thanks to Angel Yoshev whose shot from the left was not held by Mario Muscat.
Yoshev went close once again two minutes later off a cross by Gianluca Calabretta from the right but this time Muscat neutralised his attempt. On 71 minutes, Angel Yoshev tried his luck with a shot from the left which ended just over the bar. A Massimo Grima freekick was turned into a corner by the Hibernians goalkeeper a minute later.
Roderick Fenech concluded a good solo effort with a perfect pass for Massimo Grima whose powerful drive ended just over the bar on 78 minutes.
In stoppage time, Hibernians coach Michael Woods was sent off by referee Fyodor Zammit.
Andrew Cohen was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Ryan Camilleri, Rodolfo Soares, Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen, Adrian Pulis, Clayton Failla, Zoran Levnajic, Udo Nwoko (48’ Ayrton Azzopardi), Anderson Mendes Ribeiro (68’ Jean Paul Farrugia), Jackson di Lima Siqueira.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Scott Chircop, Brandon Muscat, Jonathan Pearson, John Nwoba.
Coach: Michael Woods
HAMRUN Andrea Cassar, Massimo Grima, Ryan Spiteri (54’ Gianluca Calabretta), Terence Vella, Nikolay Bozhov, Adrian Ivanov, Roderick Fenech, Angel Yoshev, Anton Vergilov, David Camilleri (61’ Luke Grech), Daniel Zerafa (83’ Christian Cassar).
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Gianluca Debattista, Glenn Azzopardi, Adrian Borg.
Coach: Stefan Sultana
Asst. Coach: Atanas Marinov
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Kristensen
Scorers: 8’ Andrew Cohen (Hib); 20’ Anderson Mendes Ribeiro (Hib); 66’ Angel Yoshev (Ham)