Floriana registered their sixth consecutive win as they beat Rabat Ajax 2-1 to deny the Magpies the opportunity to collect more precious points in their bid to avoid relegation.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
Rabat lacked once again Sean Mintoff and Clive Brincat apart from the usual Chris Schembri, Adam Smeir and Ryan Micallef. Floriana, on the other hand, could not count on Joseph Borg.
The Greens had the first attempt at goal on the 7th minute, going close to taking the lead with a diagonal shot by Steve Pisani from the right which scraped past the post. Rabat replied with a close-range effort by Jose Luis Armario Negrin, served by Diego Carrillo, which was blocked by goalkeeper Tony Warner on the 11th. Warner then rushed out of the area to anticipate Diego Carrillo on the 22nd minute following a fine through pass. A direct freekick by Gary Roberts ended just over the bar for Floriana three minutes later.
Floriana managed to take the lead on the 27th when off a corner by Igor Coronado, Gary Roberts headed the ball home despite a defender’s desperate bid to clear the ball off the goal line.
Jose Luis Armario Negrin just failed to connect off an inviting cross by Diego Carrillo on the 39th with the ball eventually being cleared into a corner.
In added time, Floriana were awarded a penalty after Trevor Cilia ended on to the ground when challenged by Caruana. From the penalty spot, Gary Roberts converted to double the score.
Five minutes in the second half, Armario Negrin had another close-range effort blocked by the Floriana goalkeeper.
The two teams then had a player sent off – Steve Pisani for Floriana and Justin Felice for Rabat – on the 52nd minute after an argument between the two.
Rabat reduced the gap on 72 minutes when off a Diego Carrillo cross, Patrick Borg served Jose Luis Armario Negrin who flicked the ball home from close range.
Jose Luis Armario Negrin was voted BOV Player of the Match.
RABAT Jonathan Azzopardi, Joseph Caruana, Justin Felice, Malcolm Licari (62’ Patrick Borg), Jose Luis Armario Negrin, Manuel Moral Fuster, Dylan Falzon, Diego Carrillo Pendas, Yan Cauchi, David Azzopardi, Clifford Gauci.
Subs not used: Andrew Zammit, Gaetano Gesualdi, Neil Caruana, Ivan Carapic, Neil Farrugia, Shaun Gauci.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joseph Galea
Goalkeepers Coach: David Vella
FLORIANA Tony Warner, Carl Tremarco, Owen Bugeja, Gary Roberts, Kane Farrugia, Trevor Cilia (67’ Mark Spiteri), Thomas Paris, Clyde Borg, Udo Nwoko (62’ Sacha Borg), Steve Pisani, Igor Coronado.
Subs not used: Jonathan Debono, Brooke Farrugia, Isaac Galea, Luca Casha, Francesco Guzman.
Coach: Iain Brunskill
Asst. Coach: Gary Howard
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Duncan Sultana
Fourth official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Caruana, Pisani, Tremarco, Bugeja, Roberts, Warner
Red Cards: 52’ Steve Pisani, 52’ Justin Felice
Scorers: 27′ Gary Roberts, 45+2′ Gary Roberts penalty; 70′ Jose Luis Armario Negrin
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
Meanwhile in the second match, Qormi dominated as they beat neighbours Hamrun Spartans 6-2.
A heavy defeat for Hamrun who were hoping to leapfrog Rabat Ajax with a positive result from this game.
The Spartans managed to take the lead on 21 minutes when off a David Camilleri corner, there was a short clearance and Ryan Spiteri placed the ball at the back of the net with a shot from inside the area.
Qormi’s reaction was immediate and they levelled matters on the 23rd thanks to Edison Bilbao Zarate who tapped the ball home from close range.
A minute later, Alfred Effiong provided Moises Avila Perez with an inviting pass from the right but the Spanish striker failed to connect.
However on the 26th, Moises Avila Perez scored with a low shot from inside the area following an assist by Jonathan Bondin.
A fine Terence Vella effort from the right was turned into a corner by Steve Sultana. On the other side of the pitch, Anthony Curmi was prominent with a deflection on a Joseph Chetcuti cross from the right and with a clearance before Leighton Grech could conclude a few minutes later.
One minute from half-time, Qormi were awarded a penalty after Anthony Curmi floored Alfred Effiong inside the area. Moises Avila Perez converted from the penalty spot.
Six minutes in the second half, Curmi performed a good save on a freekick from the left by Thackray and off the rebound, Jonathan Bondin tapped the ball home.
Terence Vella reduced the gap on the 58th when he concluded a fine solo effort with a powerful shot from the right which was not held by Sultana.
However Qormi scored the fifth goal four minutes later when Moises Avila Perez rounded a couple of players with Alfred Effiong concluding with a low shot.
A minute later, Joseph Chetcuti released Alfred Effiong who beat Curmi with a rising shot to make it 6-2.
One minute from time, substitute Massimo Grima hit the crossbar for Hamrun while Terence Scerri hit the upright in added time.
Moises Avila Perez was voted BOV Player of the Match.
QORMI Steve Sultana, Kris Thackray, Roderick Sammut, Alfred Effiong, Joseph Chetcuti (64’ Christian Cassar), Moises Avila Perez, Luke Sciberras, Matthew Gauci, Edison Bilbao Zarate (82’ Gilmore Azzopardi), Jonathan Bondin, Leighton Grech (76’ Shamison Zammit).
Subs not used: Matthew Farrugia, Duncan Pisani, Alessio Cassar, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Asst. Coach: Joe Brincat
HAMRUN Anthony Curmi, Glenn Azzopardi, Luke Grech (78’ Melvin Busuttil), David Camilleri, Bledjon Guga (64’ Massimo Grima), Roderick Fenech (32’ Ayrton Micallef), Terence Scerri, Ryan Spiteri, Giacomo Favero, Emiliano Lattes, Terence Vella.
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Gianluca Debattista, Rodney Refalo, Cesar Catalan Clemente.
Coach: Stefan Sultana
Asst. Coach: Jeffrey Mifsud
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Eman Grech
Fourth official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Grech, Curmi, Sammut
Scorers: 21’ Ryan Spiteri, 23′ Edison Bilbao Zarate, 26′ Moises Avila Perez, 44′ Moises Avila Perez pen, 51’ Jonathan Bondin, 58’ Terence Vella, 62’ Alfred Effiong, 63’ Alfred Effiong