Substitute Andrew Scicluna scored a late goal to earn ten-man Balzan a point in a 2-2 draw with newly-promoted Vittoriosa Stars.
The Stars could consider themselves unlucky not to take something more from the game since they created the better chances throughout the ninety minutes. However Balzan deserve credit for not giving up after having a player sent off.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg
Both sides had several new players in their starting line-up. Balzan had Justin Grioli, Luke Sciberras, Steve Bezzina and foreigners Erjon Beu, Rodrigo Pereira and Fabio Vignaroli all making their debut apart from Gianluca Calabretta, Andrew Scicluna and Mark Spiteri who were included as substitutes. Making their first appearance for Vittoriosa were José Filipe Caldeira Aguiar, Oscar Alvarado Guerrero, Marcio Teruel, Gilbert Martin and Michael Camilleri.
The Stars held the initiative in the early stages, going close with a Marcelo Pereira effort blocked by a defender on the 4th. Six minutes later, Ramon dos Santos hit just wide off a freekick by Marcio Teruel.
Teruel halted a good run by Erjon Beu on 13 minutes and on the 24th, Vittoriosa went close once again with a Guerrero effort. On the other side of the pitch, a Lydon Micallef rising shot ended high.
Balzan took the lead on the 31st minute thanks to Aaron Agius, served by Vignaroli, who managed to beat Sean Cini despite a desperate attempt by two defenders to clear the ball into safety.
Vittoriosa equalised eight minutes later when the Balzan rear-guard failed to clear a freekick from the right by Gilbert Martin and Oscar Guerrero placed the ball inside the empty net.
One minute in the second half, the Stars threatened once again with a shot from the edge of the area by Marcelo Pereira following a good move by Martin on the right but the Brazilian striker’s shot was blocked into a corner by Dani Miguelez. On the other side of the pitch, Erjon Beu served Justin Grioli whose shot ended high.
Marcelo Pereira beat Grioli on the run on 56 minutes but his conclusion was blocked by the Balzan goalkeeper. A minute later, Lydon Micallef hit the upright with a good header off a cross by Dylan Grima from the right.
Balzan were reduced to ten men on 65 minutes as Aaron Agius picked a second yellow card for a late tackle on Gilbert Martin.
Vittoriosa forged ahead on the 70th, once again thanks to Oscar Guerrero who received a pass from the right by substitute Siraj Arab and beat Dani Miguelez with a fine rising shot.
Oscar Guerrero could have added another on the 83rd minute but hit incredibly high following a cross from the left by Adam Spiteri.
One minute from time, Balzan restored equilibrium when off a corner by substitute Mark Spiteri, another substitute – Andrew Scicluna headed the ball past Cini.
VITTORIOSA Sean Cini, Lucas Ramon dos Santos, Jose Filipe Caldeira Aguiar (82’ Adam Spiteri), Gilbert Martin (71’ Siraj Arab), Oscar Alvarado Guerrero, Marcio Teruel, Samir Arab, Michael Camilleri, Marcelo Pereira, Luke Vella Critien, Malcolm Buttigieg.
Subs not used: Jean Matthias Vella, Justin Camilleri, Clive Spiteri, Ryan Mifsud, Kurt Ellul.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
BALZAN Daniel Miguelez Martinez, Aaron Agius, Erjon Beu (82’ Mark Spiteri), Ryan Darmanin (75’ Gianluca Calabretta), Dylan Grima (66’ Andrew Scicluna), Justin Grioli, Lydon Micallef, Rodrigo Frank Pereira, Luke Sciberras, Steve Bezzina, Fabio Vignaroli.
Subs not used: Michael Falzon, Gianfranco Micallef, Michael Borg, Shaun Bajada.
Coach: Riccardo Tumiatti
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Christopher Francalanza
Additional Assistant Referees: Glenn Tonna, Philip Farrugia
Fourth Official: Edward Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Agius, Vella Critien, Darmanin, Vignaroli, Aguiar
Red Cards: 65’ Aaron Agius
Scorers: 31’ Aaron Agius (B); 39’ Oscar Guerrero (V); 70’ Oscar Guerrero (V); 89′ Andrew Scicluna
BOV Player of the Match: Gilbert Martin (Vittoriosa)