Champions Birkirkara defeated Rabat Ajax 2-1 in the match which kicked-off the BOV Premier League 2013/14 courtesy of a Frank Temile brace.
The Stripes held the initiative during the first half, taking an early lead and regaining the lead just before the break after Rabat had equalised.
Temile and Demba Toure were making their league debut after starring for Birkirkara in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers and the BOV Super Cup.
The Magpies, under the guidance of new coach Steve D’Amato, had two new foreigners in their starting line-up – Montenegrin goalkeeper Pavle Velimirovic and Spanish midfielder Dani Pelaez. On-loan signing Jonathan Bajada was included as a substitute. Adam Smeir and Ryan Micallef were unavailable as they are still recovering from injuries.
The Stripes could not have a better start, taking the lead on the 7th minute when off a cross by Demba Toure from the left, Frank Temile flicked the ball home past Velimirovic.
Seven minutes later, Shola Shodiya served Gareth Sciberras from the left and the Birkirkara captain hit high from just outside the area. On the 26th minutes, a powerful shot by Shola Shodiya ended high.
Rabat levelled matters on the half-hour when off a Dani Pelaez freekick, Malcolm Licari headed the ball past Haber.
Four minutes from the end of the first half, Demba Toure headed the ball just over bar off a cross by Frank Temile.
The Stripes regained the lead on 44 minutes when off a cross from the right, Frank Temile scored with a great first-time effort which gave the Rabat goalkeeper no chance.
After the break, goal-mouth action was rare and one had to wait until the 80th minute to witness a Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza effort which was neutralised by Velimirovic.
Shola Shodiya went close twice for Birkirkara on the 87th, first with a powerful shot which was parried by the Rabat custodian when served by Scicluna and then with a shot from the edge of the area which hit the foot of the upright. Three minutes in added time, substitute Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza was also unlucky to hit the upright.
In the final stages, Rabat had an appeal for a penalty on Malcolm Licari, turned down by referee Paul Caruana.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
RABAT Pavle Velimirovic, Ivan Carapic, Joseph Caruana, Shaun Gauci, Justin Felice (64’ Jonathan Bajada), Clifford Gauci, Malcolm Licari, Dylan Falzon, Dani Pelaez Bellido, Diego Carrillo Pendas, David Azzopardi.
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Neil Caruana, Zachary Tanti, Josef Tonna, Wayne Borg, Aidan Azzopardi.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
B’KARA Justin Haber, Alejandro Mendoza, Zach Muscat, Ryan Camenzuli, Frank Temile, Paul Fenech, Gareth Sciberras, Rowen Muscat (68’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Haruna Shola Shodiya (90′ Kurt Zammit), Edward Herrera, Demba Toure (82’ Ryan Scicluna).
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci, Joseph Zerafa, Terrence Vella, Ini Akpan.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: C. Gauci, D. Azzopardi, E. Herrera
Scorers: 7’ Frank Temile (B); 30’ Malcolm Licari (R); 44′ Frank Temile (B)
BOV Player of the Match: Frank Temile