Birkirkara could not go beyond a goalless draw with in-form Floriana, therefore risking to lose ground with leaders Hibernians.
The Greens, who were coming from a fine 3-0 win over Balzan in their last outing, were clearly the better side throughout the ninety minutes, creating the better chances thanks to which they could have even taken the three points home.
Paul Fenech and Edward Herrera were the most notable absentees for the Stripes with Steve Bonnici unavailable for Floriana along with Andre Scicluna.
Floriana had the better chances throughout the first half and on the 40th, they were unlucky not to take the lead with a powerful shot by Matteo Piciollo from inside the area was saved at point blank by Justin Haber.
After the break, the Greens continued to hold the initiative with the Stripes doing their best to control their opponents. Floriana also had two appeals for penalties turned down by referee Philip Farrugia.
FLORIANA Matthew Calleja Cremona, Douglas Felipe Moreira Cobo, Marcelina Emerson, Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Vito Plut (67′ Igor Coronado), Matteo Piciollo, Conor Borg, Manuel Briffa, Amadou Samb, Manolito Micallef.
Subs not used: Tyrone Gauci, Luke Micallef, Neil Spiteri, Giovanni Galea, Daniel Agius, Sacha Borg.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
B’KARA Justin Haber, Joseph Zerafa (63′ Ryan Scicluna) Nikola Vukanac, Mauricio Matias Latini Mazzetti, Haruna Shola Shodiya, Rafael Pompeo Rodriguez Ledesma (70′ Mateus Bissi da Silva), Edmond Agius, Zach Muscat, Rowen Muscat, Ryan Camenzuli, Kurt Zammit |(84′ Antoine Borg).
Subs not used: Mirza Hamzabegovic, Gareth Sciberras, Russell Gatt De Raffaele, Shaun Deguara.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Assistant Referees: Paul Apap, David Castillo
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: Cobo, Z. Muscat, Zerafa, Mazzetti, Bissi
BOV Player of the Match: Matteo Piciollio
Meanwhile at the Hibernians Stadium, Naxxar Lions collected three precious points in a 2-1 win over Qormi.
A win enables Jesmond Zerafa’s side to move to safer waters, joining Mosta on the 17-point mark, five ahead of the same Qormi, Pietà and Zebbug.
Naxxar had a perfect start, taking the lead on the 2nd minue when off an assist by Pablo Doffo, Mattia Del Negro’s long-distance shot from the right, aided by the wind, hit the posts before ending at the back of the net.
Qormi went close to equalising on the 15th with a Leighton Grech corner, blocked on the goal line by Azzopardi after a conclusion by Alex Nilsson was deflected by a defender.
However Qormi managed to equalise four minutes in the second half when off a cross by Marcelinho, Alex Nilsson flicked the ball past goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi.
Two minutes later, Qormi could have made it 2-1 when Azzopardi floored Nilsson inside the area but the Swedish striker’s effort from the penalty spot was parried by the Naxxar goalkeeper.
Naxxar regained the lead on the 69th minute when a corner by Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro was deflected into another corner and this time, direct from a corner, the Brazilian striker beat Matthew Farrugia.
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Christopher Edafe Uzeh (76’ Bjorn Bondin), Marcelo Roberto Lima de Mattos, Clifford Gauci, Emerson Vella (73’ Ryan Micallef), Zoran Levnajic, Duncan Pisani, Jonathan Bondin, Billy Berntsson (63’ Alejandro Mendoza Corujo), Leighton Grech, Alex Nilsson.
Subs not used: Mario Muscat, Jurgen Cilia, George Portelli, Karl Sciortino.
Coach: Mark Miller
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Andrew Scicluna, Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Terrence Vella (83’ Victor Bellia), Mattia Del Negro, Daren Falzon (78’ Ryan Gilmour Cassar), Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Pablo Doffo, Angus Buhagiar, Jorge Santos Silva (90’ Demba Toure) Albert Bruce.
Subs not used: Slaven Micallef, Ishmael Ellul, Jurgen Debono, Ryan Mercieca.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Uzeh, Vella, Azzopardi, Jorge Santos, Pisani, Marcelinho, Gilmar
Scorers: 2’ Mattia Nel Negro, 49’ Alex Nilsson, 69’ Gilmar Ribeiro da Silva
BOV Player of the Match: Julian Azzopardi