Leaders Hibernians maintained a two-point lead on top the BOV Premier League table after sharing the spoils in a goalless draw with Birkirkara in this weekend’s big match despite having to play for over twenty-five minutes in ten men.
The two teams shared the exchanges throughout the ninety minutes and therefore a draw was a fair result. For the Stripes, this was the fourth consecutive draw.
Hibernians lacked Rodolfo Soares, Jonathan Pearson, Bjorn Kristensen and Udo Nwoko. Birkirkara welcomed back Reuben Gauci but Shola Shodiya and Joselito dos Reis were still unavailable as they recover from injuries.
The Paolites made their intentions clear right from the start with Johann Bezzina trying his luck with a powerful drive after just one minute hitting the crossbar. Birkirkara replied with a Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza effort, served intelligently by Jhonnattann, which was parried by Muscat after the Birkirkara striker entered the penalty area and avoided a tackle by Ryan Camilleri.
Reuben Gauci managed to turn into a corner a close-range header by Jean Paul Farrugia on 19 minutes and from the resulting corner by Jackson Lima, Anderson Ribeiro headed the ball just wide.
Clayton Failla then tested Reuben Gauci with a freekick from the right two minutes from time. Two minutes later, following a good move on the left flank by Marcelo Dias, Andrew Cohen headed wide.
A freekick by Andrew Cohen ended just over the bar eight minutes in the second half. Birkirkara replied with another direct freekick by Jhonnattann ending high two minutes later.
The Paolites were reduced to ten men on 65 minutes after Marcelo Dias picked a second yellow card for a foul on Rodrigo Pereira.
Jean Paul Farrugia tried to surprise Reuben Gauci with a lob from outside the area on the 82nd minute when served by Johann Bezzina.
Finally three minutes from time, following a freekick from the right, Allan Kardeck’s header was cleared off the goal line by Nikola Vukanac.
Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Adrian Pulis, Ryan Camilleri, Marcelo Dias, Andrew Cohen, Clayton Failla, Zoran Levnajic, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro (59’ Allan Kardeck dos Santos), Johann Bezzina, Jean Paul Farrugia, Jackson di Lima Siqueira.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Scott Chircop, Ayrton Azzopardi, Brandon Muscat, Keith Tanti, Neil Chetcuti.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Darren Abdilla
B’KARA Reueben Gauci, Edward Herrera, Nikola Vukanac, Rodrigo Pereira (74’ Yosimar Hernandez), Joseph Zerafa, Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Gareth Sciberras, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Paul Fenech (74’ Ryan Camenzuli), Rowen Muscat, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza.
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Zach Muscat, Andre Cassar, Ryan Scicluna, David Spiteri.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Albert Borg Cardona
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Zerafa, Dias, Failla, Jhonnattann, Pereira
Red Cards: 65’ Marcelo Dias
Photo: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
Meanwhile Mosta scored twice in the second half to condemn Balzan to a third consecutive defeat which leaves them seven points behind Tarxien and Sliema Wanderers who are joint-fifth.
On the other hand, for Mosta, these three points put them closer to securing a place in the Championship Pool as they are back in fourth place.
Steve Bezzina, Jonathan Bajada and Ousseni Zongo were missing for Mosta while Matthew Camilleri, Stefan Giglio, Rennie Forace, Martin Deyanov, Jamie Pace and Renato Conceicao were missing for Balzan.
Mosta had the first attempt at goal on the 21st minute when off a cross by Daniel Bogdanovic from the right, Obinna Obiefule’s header hit the crossbar. A shot from the left by Bogdanovic from outside the area on 26 minutes ended just wide.
The Blues managed to take the lead on 57 minutes when a Daniel Bogdanovic freekick was partially saved by Fredrick Tabone and off the rebound, Carlos Campagnoli placed the ball at the back of the net.
A minute later, Mosta went close to doubling the score with a Danail Mitev freekick, deflected by Elton Alexandre da Silva, which ended just wide. On the other side of the pitch, Yessous Camilleri missed a good opportunity heading the ball wide off an inviting freekick by Pedro Calcado on 73 minutes. Four minutes later, Danail Mitev received a long through-pass on the right flank, the Bulgarian midfielder anticipated the goalkeeper but his conclusion missed the target.
A rising shot by Mitev from outside the area scraped past the post ten minutes from time. Matthew Mendy then headed just wide following a freekick from the right by Pedrinho on 86 minutes.
Balzan paid dearly for this missed chance as three minutes from time, Mosta doubled the score with Daniel Bogdanovic heading the ball home from close range off a cross from the right by Manolito Micallef.
Daniel Bogdanovic was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MOSTA Justin Haber, Steve Onyii Chiemeka, Obinna Obiefule, Ryan Grech (90’ Ferdinando Apap), Danail Mitev, Manolito Micallef, Daniel Bogdanovic, Alex Cini, Bryan Agius, Luke Dimech, Carlos Campagnoli.
Subs not used: Noel Attard, Giancarlo Sammut, James Brincat, Jean Noel Azzopardi, Steve Schembri, Adrian Farrugia.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
BALZAN Fredrick Tabone, Aaron Agius (66’ Rodrigo de Barros Consani), Yessous Camilleri, Matthew Mendy, Jonathan Francica, Bjorn Bondin, Dylan Grima, Christian Caruana (69’ Malcolm Licari), Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Elton Alexandre da Silva, Jacob Dominico Borg (83’ Clint Micallef).
Subs not used: Matteo Farrugia, Michael Borg, Kevin Camilleri, Andrew Cassar.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Mendy, Francica, Cini
Scorers: 57′ Carlos Campagnoli, 87′ Daniel Bogdanovic