Valletta held by Tarxien — Sliema, Floriana share spoils in 1-1 draw

Valletta failed to collect the three points despite holding the initiative for long stretches, earning just a point in a goalless draw with Tarxien Rainbows at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.

For the Citizens, this was yet another disappointing result after losing to Birkirkara in the BOV Super Cup and suffering a narrow defeat to Mosta in their first league outings. On the other hand, for Tarxien, this was the second draw in as many matches.

Valletta coach Gilbert Agius made two changes to the team which lost to Mosta replacing Ryan Camilleri and Lateef Elford-Alliyu with Luke Dimech and Luke Montebello. Roderick Briffa was unavailable once again as he recovers from an injury. On the other hand, for Tarxien, Matthew Tabone replaced Kane Farrugia.

The Citizens had the lion’s share of ball possession and shots at goal. Steve Borg hit wide off when served by Kooh-Sohna early in the game and after a Jorge Santos effort was neutralised by Nicky Vella, Valletta went close once again with a cross shot by the Cameroonian striker.

Just before half-time, Luke Montebello, all alone in front of the goalkeeper, had a shot blocked by Jonathan Debono.

After the break, Valletta increased the pressure and substitute Ian Zammit just missed the target off a cross by Shaun Bajada on 68 minutes and four minutes later, the same Valletta striker had a shot cleared off the goal line by a defender. From the resulting corner, another Valletta substitute, Christian Caruana had his attempt neutralised by Debono.

VALLETTA Nicky Vella, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi (66′ Ian Zammit), Steve Borg, Ryan Fenech, Hugo Faria, Raphael Kooh Sohna (81′ Lateef Elford Alliyu), Luke Montebello (59′ Christian Caruana), Shaun Bajada, Abdelkarim Nafti, Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Ryan Camilleri, Llywelyn Cremona, Adrian Zahra.
Coach: Gilbert Agius

TARXIEN Jonathan Debono, Manuel Caruana, Owen Bugeja, Alvaro Andre Rodrigues Silva (58′ Clebinho), Triston Caruana, Wesley Lima Silva (90+3′ Kane Farrugia), Ryan Sammut, Alex Cini, Matthew Tabone (75′ Firas Aboulezz), Alessandro Lopes Pereira, Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Sean Cini, Steve Sadowski, Manuel Xerri, Luke Aquilina.
Coach: Clive Mizzi

Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Jurgen Spiteri, David Castillo
Fourth Official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Tabone, Dimech, Fenech, C. Caruana, Aboulezz
BOV Player of the Match: Shaun Bajada
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 768

At the National Stadium, Floriana collected their first point in a 1-1 draw with Sliema Wanderers.

With Italian goalkeeper Valerio Senatore and Brazilian defender Douglas Cobo making their debut and Steve Pisani making his return after serving a one-match ban, the Greens made remarkable improvement over their first outing when they lost heavily to Hibernians. Senatore, Cobo, Pisani and Manuel Briffa replaced Sean Mintoff, Andre Scicluna, Gary Muir and Joseph Borg in the starting line-up.

Sliema, who had earned a draw with Tarxien in their first outing, had one change as Beppe Muscat replaced John Mintoff.

The Blues went close to taking the lead with an Andrea Pisani freekick hitting the upright on the 17th and seven minutes later, it was Floriana’s turn as Matteo Piciollo released Vito Plut in a counter-attack but the latter shot into the legs of goalkeeper Glenn Zammit. Late in the first half, Zammit performed a good save on Piciollo, served by Plut.

Five minutes in the second half, Floriana managed to break the deadlock when Matteo Piciollo controlled the ball well before beating Zammit with good lob from inside the area.

Floriana almost doubled the score on 63 minutes when Brooke Farrugia’s goal-bound shot was somehow held by the Sliema goalkeeper.

Sliema, however, equalised on the 72nd minute when Andrea Pisani latched on a perfect cross by Trevor Cilia to beat Senatore.

SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Alex Muscat (64′ Trevor Cilia), Filippo Andrea Scozzeze, Marco Potezica, Mark Scerri (46′ John Mintoff), Michael Mifsud, Andrea Pisanu (82′ Peter Xuereb), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Paltemio Barbetti, Beppe Muscat, Stefano Bianciardi
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Axl Xuereb, Iousef Meli, Luca Martinelli.
Coach: Alfonso Greco

FLORIANA Valerio Senatore, Douglas Felipe Moreira Cobo, Emerson Marcellina (75′ Gary Muir), Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Vito Plut (88′ Giovanni Galea), Matteo Piciollo, Emanuel Briffa, Brooke Farrugia (68′ Joseph Borg), Sasha Borg, Steve Bonnici,
Subs not used: Tyron Gauci, Luke Micalef, Neil Spiteri, Isaac Galea.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco

Referee: Christopher Lautier
Assistant referees: Alan Camilleri, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Philip Farrugia
Yellow Cards: B. Muscat, M. Scerri, S. Bonnici, B. Farrugia, F. Scozzese, M. Briffa
Scorers: 50′ Matteo Piciollo, 72′ Andrea Pisanu
BOV Player of the Match: Matteo Piciollo
Attendance at the National Stadium: 961