Rabat Ajax will be playing in Division 1 next season after losing 0-2 to Naxxar Lions at the Victor Tedesco Stadium. A defeat which condemned them to the lower division after avoiding relegation at the end of last season. Steve D’Amato’s side has gone twenty matches – over five months – without a win.
This win put Naxxar Lions back on track after collecting just three points from the last nine matches, moving five points ahead of Vittoriosa Stars who are currently second from bottom.
As usual, the Magpies were a depleted side as they lacked Dylan Falzon, Dani Pelaez, Sorin Oproiescu, Adam Smeir and Ryan Micallef but Pavle Velimirovic and Jonathan Bajada were back after missing the last game. Winston Muscat opted to start without Thiago Lopes de Souza but welcomed back Angus Buhagiar and Andrew Decesare.
The Magpies had the first attempt at goal with a fine volley by Diego Carrillo ending just wide on the 17th. Rabat goalkeeper Pavle Velimirovic then came to the rescue with fine saves on Bellia, Buhagiar and Gilmar to keep the Lions at bay.
Ten minutes in the second half, Naxxar managed to bereak the deadlock when Andre Rocha da Silva served Angus Buhagiar on the left and the latter beat the Rabat custodian with a diagonal shot.
Five minutes from time, Naxxar sealed the issue when captain Victor Bellia concluded a fine solo effort with a powerful shot from the edge of the area which gave Velimirovic no chance.
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Raimi Bakare, Victor Bellia (92′ Jurgen Debono), Angus Buhagiar, Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Andrew Decesare, Kurt Drago, Andre Rocha da Silva, Daren Falzon (73′ Terence Scerri), David Alejandro Reano, Filip Stojanovic (80′ Milan Vignjevic).
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Duane Bonnici, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, John Debono.
Coach: Winston Muscat
RABAT Pavle Velimirovic, Shaun Gauci, David Azzopardi, Zachary Tanti, Ivan Carapic, Joseph Cauana, Jonathan Bajada (63′ Patrick Borg), Wayne Borg (74′ Chris Vella), Malcolm Licari, Diego Carrillo Pendas, Aidan Azzopardi (87′ Luke Cauchi).
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Etienne Scicluna, Stefan Cortis, Sean Abela.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: Caruana, Bajada, Tanti, Gilmar, Carrillo, Drago, D. Azzopardi, C. Vella
Scorers: 55′ Angus Buhagiar, 85′ Victor Bellia
BOV Player of the Match: Filip Stojanovic
Meanwhile at the Hibernians Stadium, Tarxien Rainbows maintained their unbeaten record in the Relegation Pool thanks to a 1-1 draw with Vittoriosa Stars.
The Stars were in a desperate need of points as they are currently second from bottom but for Tarxien, the result suited them fine as they maintain a comfortable seven-point gap over them.
Clive Brincat and Luke Vella Critien were missing for Vittoriosa while Tarxien were practically in full strength.
Vittoriosa took the lead on the 13th when Marcelo Pereira served Oscar Guerrero whose first attempt was blocked by Nicky Vella and off the rebound, Guerrero headed home.
Mario Muscat then came to the rescue on the 18th as he cleared into safety a through-pass by Jorge Santos Silva for Demba Toure before the Tarxien midfielder could do any damage.
Four minutes from the end of the first half, Tarxien equalised when Jorge Santos Silva served Karl Pulo who was quick to dribble past an opponent and slot the ball past Muscat.
Just before half-time, an Ousmane Sidibe header off a freekick by Guerrero was saved in two attempts by Nicky Vella.
Vittoriosa had the best attempts at goal after the break, going close with a Jose Filipe Aguiar long-distance effort deflected into a corner on 48 minutes, a header by Sidibe was blocked by Nicky Vella and then the Tarxien custodian turned into a corner a well-placed freekick by Guerrero.
One minute from time, referee Trustin Farrugia Cann sent Carlo Mamo off for a second bookable offence.
VITTORIOSA Mario Muscat, Samir Arab, Leonardo Torri, Ousmane Sidibe, Marcelo Pereira, Gilbert Martin, Oscar Dario Guerrero, Clive Spiteri, Malcolm Buttigieg (66’ Carl Sammut), Jose Filipe Aguiar Caldeira, Michael Camilleri (81’ Ryan Mifsud).
Subs not used: Sean Cini, Mark Barbara, Sheldon Grech, Francisco Mella Arriagada, Siraj Arab Eddin.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
TARXIEN Nicky Vella, Carlo Mamo, Manuel Caruana (90’ Steven Bonnici), Fernando Lopez Alcantara, Demba Toure (66’ Lucas Goncalves da Silva), Ryan Sammut, Carlos Menendez Hevia, Daniel Mariano Bueno (72’ Miguel Ciantar), Karl Pulo, Josef Mifsud, Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Steven Sadowski, Andrew Agius, Luca Martinelli,
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Albert Borg Cardona
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri.
Yellow Cards: S. Ousmane, J. Santos Silva, G. Martin, K. Pulo, L. Torri, C. Mamo, J. Mifsud
Red Cards: 90′ Carlo Mamo
Scorers: 13’ Oscar Dario Guerrero, 41’ Karl Pulo
BOV Player of the Match: Nicholas Vella