Rabat Ajax claimed three precious points in the battle against relegation as they came back from one goal down to beat Hamrun Spartans 3-1. Three points which put the Magpies one point ahead of the Spartans with three games to go for the end of the season.
Hamrun took an early lead but Rabat were quick to level matters and eventually turn the score in their favour to beat the Spartans for the first time this season.
The Ajax lacked Sean Mintoff and Clive Brincat apart from the usual Adam Smeir, Christopher Schembri and Ryan Micallef. Hamrun welcomed back in squad David Camilleri and Bledjon Guga but Terence Scerri was ruled out through suspension.
The Spartans managed to take the lead on the 9th minute when off an Emiliano Lattes corner, Roderick Fenech headed home.
Rabat levelled matters on the 14th when Jose Luis Armario Negrin concluded a good move with a low shot from inside the area which beat goalkeeper Anthony Curmi.
Four minutes later, the Magpies forged ahead when Malcolm Licari received the ball off a cross from the right and headed the ball over the goalkeeper.
Rabat kept pushing for more and went close with a Jose Luis Armario Negrin low shot which was parried by Curmi and then with a Joseph Caruana powerful shot from the right which just missed the target.
Three minutes later Rabat scored the third goal when Diego Carrillo Pendas released Jose Luis Armario Negrin on the right, the latter anticipated Curmi and Manuel Moral Fuster who slammed the ball home from close range.
Four minutes from half-time, Manuel Moral Fuster went close once again as he received a good pass on the left and tried his luck with a curved shot which ended just over the bar.
Three minutes in the second half, Daniel Zerafa surprised goalkeeper Jonathan Azzopardi with a header which was somehow deflected onto the upright before being cleared into safety.
Ryan Spiteri was unlucky to hit the upright for Hamrun following a cross by Terence Vella from the right on 84 minutes. One minute later, Moral Fuster served Carrillo Pendas on the left and the latter’s angled shot hit the foot of the post.
Manuel Moral Fuster was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HAMRUN Anthony Curmi, Glenn Azzopardi, Luke Grech, Roderick Fenech (46’ Bledjon Guga), Adrian Borg, Daniel Zerafa, Massimo Grima (57’ Loic Lumbilla Kandja), Ryan Spiteri, Giacomo Favero (46’ David Camilleri), Emiliano Lattes, Terence Vella.
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Ayrton Micallef, Melvin Busuttil, Gianluca Debattista
Coach: Stefan Sultana
Asst. Coach: Jeffrey Mifsud
RABAT Jonathan Azzopardi, Ivan Carapic, Joseph Caruana, Malcolm Licari (57’ Justin Felice), Jose Luis Armario Negrin (89’ Wayne Borg), Manuel Moral Fuster (91’ Gaetano Gesualdi), Dylan Falzon, Diego Carrillo, Yan Cauchi, David Azzopardi, Clifford Gauci.
Subs not used: Andrew Zammit, Neil Caruana, Patrick Borg, Shaun Gauci.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joseph Galea
Goalkeepers’ Coach: David Vella
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Roberto Vella
Fourth official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: A. Borg, D. Camilleri, Carrillo, Carapic
Scorers: 9′ Roderick Fenech; 14′ Jose Luis Armario Negrin; 18′ Malcolm Licari; 35′ Manuel Moral Fuster
Floriana registered a fifth consecutive win as they scored twice in the second half to beat Balzan 2-0.
A defeat which leaves Balzan in trouble as they lie just four points ahead of Rabat and five ahead of Hamrun. After three successive draws, this was the third consecutive defeat.
Balzan coach Riccardo Tumiatti could not field his best formation due to the absence of Renato Conceicao and Aaron Agius. Floriana, on the other hand, were in full strength.
The Greens went close to taking the lead on 24 minutes when off an Igor Coronado corner, Steve Pisani’s goal-bound header was cleared off the goal line by Matthew Mendy. On the 37th minute, Igor Coronado dashed into the area but Matthew Mendy came to the rescue clearing the ball into safety. A powerful shot by Trevor Cilia was partially saved by Dani Miguelez.
Matthew Mendy went close for Balzan nine minutes in the second half with a powerful shot from outside the area.
Floriana managed to break the deadlock on 64 minutes when Kane Farrugia served Trevor Cilia on the right and the latter’s powerful rising shot from outside the area gave goalkeeper Dani Miguelez no chance.
Trevor Cilia went close with another shot from outside the area two minutes later and on the 69th minute, a cross shot by Akui N’Dekre from the left missed the target by a whisker.
Steve Pisani doubled the score on the 70th thanks to an angled shot from the right which beat the Balzan goalkeeper.
Jacob Borg came to the rescue blocking a Carl Tremarco effort seven minutes from time. Finally, in added time, a good attempt by Coronado was neutralised by Dani Miguelez.
Matthew Mendy was voted BOV Player of the Match.
BALZAN Daniel Miguelez Martinez, Firas Aboulezz, Elie Moises Akui N’Dekre, Bjorn Bondin, Jacob Borg, Yessous Camilleri, Ryan Darmanin, Rennie Forace, Stefan Giglio (80’ Cruyff Grixti), Dylan Grima, Matthew Mendy.
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Shaun Bugeja, Kevin Camilleri, Christian Caruana, Andrew Cassar, Jamie Pace.
Coach: Riccardo Tumiatti
Asst. Coach: Silvan Ciscaldi
FLORIANA Tony Warner, Carl Tremarco, Gary Roberts, Owen Bugeja, Kane Farrugia, Clyde Borg, Joseph Borg (39’ Thomas Paris), Trevor Cilia, Udo Nwoko (55’ Sacha Borg), Steve Pisani (77’ Luca Casha), Igor Coronado.
Subs not used: Jonathan Debono, Mark Spiteri, Brooke Farrugia, Luke Scorfna.
Coach: Iain Brunskill
Asst. Coach: Gary Howard
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Albert Borg Cardona
Fourth official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: M. Mendy, T. Cilia, Jacob Borg, D. Grima
Scorers: 64’ Trevor Cilia, 70’ Steve Pisani