Birkirkara kept the pace with Valletta in second place as they defeated Floriana 2-1 to revenge the first round defeat. The Stripes therefore move once again fifteen points behind leaders Hibernians – their opponents next week.
For Floriana, this was the second successive defeat after losing to Balzan last week.
Floriana had three changes from the team which lost to Balzan as Conor Borg, Gary Muir and new signing Manolito Micallef replaced Clyde Borg, Neil Spiteri and Amadou Samb. With Liliu ruled out injured for the rest of the season, Matheus Bissi and Nikola Vukanac both suspended, Paul Zammit named Edward Herrera and Alejandro Mendoza in the starting line-up for Birkirkara with new recruit Nassir Ahmed Maachi starting on the bench.
Birkirkara took the lead on the 16th minute when Eliandro released Edward Herrera on the right and off the latter’s cross, Rafael Ledesma slotted the ball past goalkeeper Tyrone Gauci.
However Floriana levelled matters on 34 minutes when Vito Plut managed to serve Conor Borg who entered the penalty area before hitting low past Justin Haber.
Five minutes in the second half, Justin Haber came to the rescue for Birkirkara with a good save on Matteo Piciollo when served on the right by Conor Borg.
Three minutes later, the Stripes regained the lead when Shola Shodiya released Edward Herrera on the right and off the latter’s cross, Ryan Scicluna beat Gauci with a fine rising shot.
Eliandro had a powerful shot from inside the area neutralised by Floriana goalkeeper Tyrone Gauci on the 67th. Six minutes later, Eliandro anticipated the goalkeeper following a long through-pass but his conclusion hit the foot of the post before being cleared into safety. On the 77th, substitute Giovanni Galea, served by Marcelina Emerson lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper but Ryan Camenzuli clearing the ball off the goal line. Just before the 90th,Gary Muir was unlucky hit his just wide with a fine freekick.
FLORIANA Tyrone Gauci, Douglas Felipe Moreira Cobo, Marcelina Emerson, Steve Pisani, Vito Plut, Matteo Piciollo, Conor Borg (75′ Giovanni Galea), Emanuel Briffa, Gary Muir, Steve Bonnici, Manolito Micallef (45′ Brooke Farrugia).
Subs not used: Andrew Zammit, Rodrigo Felix Aguiar, Clyde Borg, Neil Spiteri, Sacha Borg.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
B’KARA Justin Haber, Edward Herrera, Eliandro Gonzaga dos Santos (83′ Nassir Ahmed Maachi), Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Haruna Shola Shodiya (90+2′ Andrea Curmi), Rafael Pompeo Rodrigues Ledesma (69′ Edmond Agius), Gareth Sciberras, Zach Muscat, Paul Fenech, Ryan Camenzuli, Ryan Scicluna.
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Dylan Aquilina, Antoine Borg, Kurt Zammit.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: Scicluna, Muir, Camenzuli, Haber
Scorers: 16′ Rafael Ledesma (B), 34′ Conor Borg (F), 53′ Ryan Scicluna (B)
BOV Player of the Match: Edward Herrera