Valletta move third

Valletta moved third on level points with Balzan after defeating them 1-0 in a clash between the teams lying in third and fourth place.

After taking the lead mid-way through the first half, the Citizens had several attempts at goal after the break but goalkeeper Steve Sultana denied them on various occasions before they finally managed to double the score.

Balzan have now gone four matches without a win after being held in three consecutive draws in their last three matches.

Both sides were unable to field their best formation due to the absence of Elkin Serrano for Balzan and Hugo Faria.

Valletta had an edge over their opponents, going close on the 23rd when Abdelkarim Nafti tried to surprise Sultana with a lob but he just missed the target. Nicky Vella then performed a good save on a low shot by Oscar Guerrero, following a solo effort on 31 minutes.

The Citizens forged ahead on 34 minutes when off a Hamza Barry cross, the ball reached Abdelkarim Nafti who served Roderick Briffa and the latter placed the ball at the back of the net.

Valletta increase the pressure after the break, going close with an angled shot by Hamza Barry ending just wide. Steve Sultana then performed good saves on Briffa and Kooh Sohna On 57 minutes, off a cross by Briffa, Kooh Sohna had a first-time shot blocked by the Balzan goalkeeper. Ten minutes later, Llywelyn Cremona, served by Briffa, had a shot from inside the area neutralised by the Balzan goalkeeper.

Steve Sultana was superb once again on the 75th minute as he blocked a powerful drive by Roderick Briffa, Elford-Alliyu took the rebound but this attempt was parried by the Balzan goalkeeper. Four minutes later, Briffa served Ryan Camilleri whose angled shot scraped past the post.

Seven minutes from time, Balzan were reduced to ten men after Osa Ice-Cream Guobadia pushed Elford-Alliyu just outside the area. From the resulting freekick, Ryan Fenech beat Sultana following a deflection by a defender to double the score.

VALLETTA Nicholas George Vella, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Ryan Fenech, Raphael Kooh Sohna (65′ Llywelyn Cremona), Roderick Briffa, Lateef Elford-Alliyu, Hamza Barry (81′ Luke Dimech), Abdelkarim Nafti (72′ Shaun Bajada).
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Luke Montebello, Christian Caruana, Alex Barbosa Terra.
Coach: Gilbert Agius

BALZAN Steve Sultana, Justin Grioli (69′ Ryan Darmanin), Steve Bezzina, Fredrick Nonso Odebe (46′ Luke Sciberras), Edison David Bilbao Zarate, Osa Ice-Cream Guobadia, Samir Arab, Clive Brincat, Oscar Dario Guerrero, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (61′ Lydon Micallef), Gianmarco Piccioni
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Michael Borg, Shaun Bugeja, Sean Cipriott.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri

Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Christopher Francalanza
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Scorers: 34’ Roderick Briffa, 85′ Ryan Fenech
Yellow Cards: Guerrero, Briffa, Nafti, Grioli, Kooh Sohna
Red Cards: 83′ Osa Ice-Cream Guobadia
BOV Player of the Match: Steve Sultana
Attendance: 756