After rescuing a point with a stoppage-time penalty against Mosta, leaders Valletta could do nothing to stop Pembroke Athleta from beating them 2-0 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.
In fact, after being unlucky to leave the pitch empty-handed against Floriana, Pembroke fully deserved the three points on Friday to move further away from the bottom three teams.
Valletta had three changes from the team which drew with Mosta as Roderick Briffa, Njongo Priso and Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza replaced Claudio Pani, Jurgen Suda and the suspended Federico Falcone. Jonathan Caruana and Jhonnattann were ruled out injured. For Pembroke, Matthew Farrugia and Leighton Grech were once again unavailable for selection. They had two changes from the team which lost narrowly to Floriana as Gibson Bardsley and the returning Patmore Shereni replaced James Togbah and the suspended Zoran Levnajic.
The Citizens went close to taking the lead when off a good run on the right flank by Njongo Priso, his cross was well-met by Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza whose powerful shot hit the upright.
Pembroke however forged ahead on the 37th when off a cross from the right, there was a short clearance and Ariel Laudisi slammed the ball home from close range.
Seven minutes in the second half, Pembroke doubled the score when Laudisi sent Gibson Bardley through and the latter advanced into the area before serving the unmarked Austin Martz who placed the ball at the back of the net.
Four minutes from time, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza was brought down inside the area by a defender, referee Adrian Azzopardi ordered a penalty but Njongo Priso’s effort from the penalty spot hit the crossbar.
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Ian Azzopardi (74′ Jurgen Suda), Ryan Camilleri, Juan Gill Cruz, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Roderick Briffa, Njongo Priso, Llywelyn Cremona (63′ Uchenna Callistus Umeh), Albert Bruce, Abdelkarim Nafti (90+1′ Russell Fenech), Romeu Pericles Romao.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Daniel Camilleri, Matthew Spiteri, Jean Borg.
Coach: Paul Zammit
PEMBROKE Mario Muscat, Austin Martz, Paltemio Barbetti, Gustavo Villalobos (74′ Siraj Arab Eddin), Arial Laudisi (88′ Peter Paul Sammut), Gibson Bardsley (90+3′ Geoffrey Spiteri), Owen Bugeja, Miguel Attard, Alex Cini, Kyle O’Brien, Patmore Shereni.
Subs not used: Matthew Camilleri, Tyrone Fenech, Rennie Tanti, Neil Grech.
Coach: Winston Muscat
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: Martz, Cremona, Priso, Triganza, Bardsley
Scorers: 35′ Ariel Laudisi, 52′ Austin Martz
BOV Player of the Match: Austin Martz
Meanwhile Tarxien Rainbows stay one point ahead of Mosta as the two teams shared the spoils in a goalless draw at the Hibernians Stadium. A draw which puts the Rainbows on the 19-points mark, three points behind the leaders.
Mosta had two changes from the team which drew with Valletta as Omar Borg and Dyson Falzon replaced Yenz Cini and James Brincat. On the other hand, Tarxien coach Jacques Scerri maintained faith in the same eleven players who had started the last game against Qormi.
The two teams shared the exchanges throughout the ninety minutes with the best goal-scoring opportunity falling at the feet of Luke Montebello who brought the best out of goalkeeper Omar Borg with a fine shot followed by a fine save by the Mosta custodian.
TARXIEN Andrea Cassar, Ebiabowei Baker, Ayrton Azzopardi, Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Brandon Muscat, Triston Caruana, Alex da Paixao Alves, Luke Montebello (74′ Lucky Omeruo), Carlos Menendez Hevia, Anderson Raimundo da Silva, Joao Pedro Oliveira Santos (68′ Manuel Caruana).
Subsnot used: Kursten Marmara, Timothy Tabone Desira, Daniel Zerafa, Matthew Tabone,, Roderick Bajada,.
Coach: Jacques Scerri
MOSTA Omar Borg, Manolito Micallef, Osa Guobadia, Samuel Chukwide (85′ Zachary Brincat), Adrian Borg, Saviour Fidelis (75′ Fredrick Bobby Abel), Hassan Yau, Edin Murga, Tyrone Farrugia, Dyson Falzon (75′ James Brincat), Jonas Ekani Rodriguez.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Mark Brincat, Ryan Grech, Dexter Xuereb.
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Glen Tonna
Yellow Cards: Yau, Pedrinho
BOV Player of the Match: Anderson Raimundo da Silva