A goal four minutes from time by Matias Muchardi enabled Sliema Wanderers to earn a point in a 1-1 draw with Mosta to stay six points ahead of the latter in the battle for a Championship Pool spot.
Mosta, now under the guidance of Enrico Piccioni after the former technical director replaced Danilo Doncic, therefore earned a point after two defeats in their previous two outings.
Dyson Falzon was making his debut for Mosta after joining the club on loan from Valletta. The Wanderers, on the other hand, were in full strength.
Mosta managed to take the lead after just four minutes when off a Tyrone Farrugia freekick, there was a short clearance, Manolito Micallef took the loose ball and hit low past goalkeeper Henry Bonello from the edge of the area.
Sliema went close to equalising on the 36th when off a Trevor Cilia corner from the left, the ball reached Alex Muscat whose conclusion hit the foot of the upright.
Just before half-time, Omar Borg came to the rescue for Mosta blocking a shot from close range from Matias Muchardi when served on the left by Ohawuchi.
The second half lacked goal-mouth action but Sliema had two good opportunities in two minutes. On the 76th, off a freekick by Trevor Cilia, a shot by Ohawuchi was blocked and Muchardi hit high off the rebound. Two minutes later, a freekick by Abubakar Bello-Osagie from the right ended just over the bar.
The Wanderers levelled matters four minutes from time when Matias Muchardi, served just outside the area by Bello-Osagie, managed to beat Omar Borg with a low shot.
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SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat, John Mintoff, Mark Scerri, Stanley Ohawuchi, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ivan Woods (46′ Abubakar Bello-Osagie), Trevor Cilia (90′ Beppe Muscat), Paltemio Barbetti (81′ Pape Gueye), Matias Muchardi, Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Jacob Borg, Axl Xuereb, Gabriel Aquilina.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
MOSTA Omar Borg, Kane Farrugia, Jonas Ekani Rodriguez, Tyrone Farrugia, Dyson Falzon, Manolito Micallef (84′ Nicola Cosentini), Kurt Zammit, Lukas Duriska, Cristian Martins Fernandez (86′ Alex Cini), Bojan Kaljevic (52′ Ryan Grech), Giammarco Piccioni.
Subs not used: Kurt Rizzo, Mark Brincat, James Brincat, Giancarlo Sammut.
Coach: Enrico Piccioni
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Thomas Debono, Jurgen Spiteri
Fourth Official: Sandro Spiteri
Yellow Cards: M. Micallef, Kaljevic, Gatt Baldacchino, Duriska, K. Farrugia, Cilia
Scorers: 4′ Manolito Micallef (M); 86′ Matias Muchardi (S)
BOV Player of the Match: Matias Muchardi
Attendance at the Centenary Stadium: 511
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Meanwhile at the Hibernians Stadium, Valletta returned to winning ways thanks to a narrow 2-1 win over Tarxien Rainbows. A win which puts the Citizens just one point behind leaders Birkirkara who however have a game in hand.
Tarxien, on the other hand, suffered the fourth defeat in five matches and are still third from bottom.
Valletta lacked Steve Borg, Jonathan Caruana, Ryan Fenech, Raimi Bakare, Latif Elford-Alliyu and Aziz Corr Nyang but welcomed back Roderick Briffa and Jason Vandelannoite. Steve Bonnici, Luca Martinelli, Steve Sadowski and Ronaille Calheira Seara, on the other hand, were missing for Tarxien.
Denni Rocha dos Santos put Valletta ahead after just two minutes and Abdelkarim Nafti doubled the score on 58 minutes. Marko Potezica pulled one back one minute from time for Tarxien.
Valletta made their intentions clear right from the start, taking the lead after just two minutes when a cross by Vandelannoite fromthe right was not cleared by Lopes Alcantara and Denni Rocha dos Santos’s powerful shot ends at the back of the net.
On the 10th, Valletta went close once again when a first-timer by Abdelkarim Nafti ended just past the upright. The Tunisian midfielder went close once again on 22 minutes with a direct freekick. Four minutes later, Nafti served Denni whose first-timer effort was parried by Vella.
Shaun Bajada was unlucky to hit the upright on 29 minutes with a freekick and just before the end of the first half, Denni received the ball off a cross by Briffa but his attempt from close range ended just wide.
Twelve minutes in the second half, Valletta doubled the score thanks to a direct freekick by Abdelkarim Nafti which beat the Tarxien goalkeeper with the ball ending at the back of the net.
Tarxien replied with a Carlos Menendez Hevia cross for Karl Pulo who however failed to connect on 63 minutes. Nicky Vella then came to the rescue with three consecutive saves on a Mifsud Triganza low diagonal shot, Edmond Agius’s attempt off the rebound and another close-range attempt by Denni.
On the 70th, a low diagonal shot by Jorge Santos Silva was parried by Yenz Cini and off the rebound Miguel Ciantar’s attempt hit the side netting. Karl Pulo’s powerful shot from the thirty metres was then parried by Yenz Cini.
Tarxien pulled one back on 88 minutes when off a cross from the right, Marko Potezica headed home past Cini.
Just before the final whistle, the Rainbows made a final attempt to equalise but Jorge Santos Silva’s low powerful shot from the right flank was neutralised by Cini.
VALLETTA Yenz Cini, Edmond Agius, Roderick Briffa, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (72′ Ian Zammit), Oscar Reyes Sanchez, Hamza Barry (76′ Ian Azzopardi), Shaun Bajada, Denni Rocha dos Santos, Jason Lee Vandelanoitte, Abdelkarim Nafti (85′ Llywelyn Cremona), Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Pietro Demetrio Marino, Daniel Camilleri, Matthew Thorne, Isaac McCarthy.
Coach: Mark Miller
TARXIEN Nicky Vella, Carlo Mamo, Manuel Caruana (68′ Luke Zahra), Fernando Lopez Alcantara, Andrew Agius, Marko Potezica, Miguel Ciantar (78′ Go Nagaoka), Carlos Menendez Hevia, Karl Pulo (78′ Nigel Vella), Josef Mifsud, Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Nigel Vella II, Matthew Cassar, Clive Aquilina.
Asst. Coach: Steven Vella
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Briffa, Lopes Alcantara, Menendez Hevia
Scorers: 2′ Denni Rocha dos Santos (V); 58′ Abdelkarim Nafti (V); 89′ Marko Potezica (T)
BOV Player of the Match: Denni Rocha dos Santos
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 773