Balzan dropped two important points in the battle for a place in the Championship Pool as they were held in a 1-1 draw by Rabat Ajax. With three games to go, they are now four points behind Sliema Wanderers and five behind Mosta and Tarxien Rainbows.
Rabat, on the other hand, remain at the bottom of the table with seven points from seven draws.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
Balzan lacked Matthew Camilleri, Jonathan Francica and Pedro dos Santos Calcado while Patrick Borg, Christopher Schembri, Adam Smeir and Ryan Micallef were missing for Rabat.
The Magpies managed to take the lead on the 10th minute when Diego Carrillo sent Jose Luis Armario Negrin through and the latter hit low past Balzan goalkeeper Dani Martinez.
Rabat went close once again on 21 minutes with a first-time effort by Moral Fuster following a cross from the left by Negrin. A few minutes later, Diego Carrillo hit high from an ideal position just outside the area.
Balzan levelled matters on the 37th minute when they were awarded a penalty after goalkeeper Sean Mintoff brought Renato Conceicao inside the area and from the penalty spot, Elton Alexandre da Silva converted.
On the 40th minute Ryan Darmanin headed just over the bar for Balzan off a cross by Jamie Pace and on the other side of the pitch, Manuel Moral Fuster controlled a cross by Diego Carrillo but hit just wide.
Six minutes in the second half, Rabat went close with two consecutive shots by Diego Carrillo – the first blocked by the goalkeeper and the second by a defender.
Balzan replied with a fine shot by Ryan Darmanin ending just wide off a cross from the right by Elton da Silva on 73 minutes. A minute later, the former Floriana striker hit the foot of the post with Mintoff beaten.
Dani Martinez then peformed a good save on a freekick by Diego Carrillo turning the ball into a corner on 89 minutes.
Balzan were reduced to ten men on the 90th when Yessous Camilleri was sent off following a foul on Diego Carrillo.
Diego Carrillo Pendas was voted BOV Player of the Match.
BALZAN Daniel Miguelez Martinez, Stefan Giglio (79’ Bjorn Bondin), Matthew Mendy, Yessous Camilleri, Aaron Agius (31’ Jacob Borg), Dylan Grima, Jamie Pace, Renato Conceicao, Christian Caruana (79’ Malcolm Licari), Ryan Darmanin, Elton Alexandre da Silva.
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Clint Micallef, Firas Aboulezz, Rennie Forace.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
RABAT Sean Mintoff, Ivan Carapic, Joseph Caruana, Justin Felice, Jose Luis Armario Negrin, Manuel Moral Fuster (86′ Yan Cauchi), Dylan Falzon, Clive Brincat (92’ Gaetano Gesualdi), Diego Carrillo Pendas, David Azzopardi, Clifford Gauci.
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Kurt Muscat, Wayne Borg, Yan Cauchi, Shaun Gauci, Neil Caruana.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joseph Galea
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Giglio, Agius, Mendy, Conceicao, Carapic, Bondin
Red Cards: 90’ Yessous Camilleri
Scorers: 10′ Jose Luis Armario Negrin (R); 37’ Elton Alexandre da Silva pen (B)
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
Meanwhile Floriana and Melita earned a point each as they shared the spoils in a goalless draw in a balanced encounter with few goal-scoring opportunities.
English midfielder Gary Roberts was making his debut for Floriana after the departure of Ryan Darmanin. Igor Coronado returned for the Greens but Brooke Farrugia was missing as he was serving a one-match ban. Melita, on the other hand, lacked Luke Sammut and coach Patxi Salinas but Michael Valenzia was back after serving a three-match ban.
The two teams shared the exchanges during the first half but goal-mouth action was rare. In fact the only shot at goal occurred on 24 minutes with an Igor Coronado effort turned into a corner by Guillermo Gabilondo Garcia.
Three minutes in the second half, Tony Warner performed a good save on a George Gribbon header off a freekick by Valenzia. On the hour, Gary Roberts hit high off an assist by Igor Coronado from the left. A header by Daniel Cabanillas Ayllon ended just wide following a cross by Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho six minutes later.
Igor Coronado was voted BOV Player of the Match.
FLORIANA Tony Warner, Kane Farrugia, Owen Bugeja, Thomas Paris, Trevor Cilia, Gary Roberts, Igor Coronado, Duncan Pisani, Luca Casha (61’ Carl Tremarco), Clyde Borg, Sacha Borg.
Subs not used: Jonathan Debono, Francesco Guzman, Kurt Farrugia, Isaac Galea, Joseph Borg, Luke Scorfna.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Asst. Coach: Gary Howard
MELITA Guillermo Gabilondo Garcia, Matthew Borg, Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho, Ivan Tufegdzic, George Gribbon, Michael Martin, Michael Valenzia (72’ Karl Vella Petroni), Andrew Caruana Scicluna, Luke Bianco (46’ Tobias Terpougoff), Luke Micallef (62’ Jean Pierre Attard), Daniel Cabanillas Ayllon.
Subs not used: Karl Zahra, Jorge Veloso Lourido, Marc Attard, Rudi Alhinho.
Asst. Coach: Alejandro Martinez Lopez
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Chris Francalanza, Luke Portelli
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Sierra Camacho, Roberts, Cabanillas, Warner