Champions Hibernians failed to keep the pace with leaders Valletta as they were held in a 1-1 draw by Sliema Wanderers at the National Stadium on Wednesday. A draw which leaves the Paolites four points behind the Citizens and two ahead of third-placed Balzan.
For the Wanderers, this was the third consecutive positive result and the second draw since the appointment of Alfonso Greco as new coach.
The Paolites managed to take the lead thanks to Jorge da Silva Pereira who concluded a solo effort with a diagonal shot which beat goalkeeper Glenn Zammit.
Sliema equalised on the 21th minute when Jean Paul Farrugia sent Denni Rocha dos Santos through and the latter advanced before hitting the ball from underneath the Hibs goalkeeper.
Just before half-time, Hibs were unlucky not to regain the lead with a Gilmar freekick hitting the foot of the post.
On the 78th minute, Hibs were awarded a penalty after Gilmar was fouled inside the area but Clayton Failla’s effort from the penalty spot was deflected by Glenn Zammit onto the foot of the post before the Sliema defence cleared the ball into safety.
In added time, Jurgen Degabriele went close once again for Hibernians but after advancing into the area his conclusion hit the foot of the upright.
HIBS Justin Haber, Jonathan Pearson, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Bjorn Kristensen, Andrei Agius, Edison Luis dos Santos (73’ Jurgen Degabriele), Joseph Essien Mbong (73’ Clayton Failla), Jorge da Silva Pereira, Gilmar Da Silva Ribeiro.
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Dunstan Vella, Andrew Cohen, Zach Scerri, Diosdado Mangue Mbele.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Alex Muscat, Armando Vieira dos Santos Tarlaziz (74’ Peter Xuereb), Mark Scerri, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Marko Potezica, Johann Bezzina, Denni Rocha dos Santos (86’ Aiden Jake Friggieri), Gary Muir, Jean Paul Farrugia, Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Miguel Bonnici, Benjamin Essel, Shola Haruna Shodiya, Arsenne Rye Cilia, Luke Dimech.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant Referees: Christopher Francalanza, Ryan Aquilina
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: Kristensen, Gatt Baldacchino, Muscat, Denni, Mandinho, Muir, Zammit
Scorers: 13’ Jorge da Silva Pereira, 21’ Denni Rocha Dos Santos
BOV Player of the Match : Denni Rocha Dos Santos
Meanwhile Mosta and St. Andrews earned a point each as they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at the Victor Tedesco Stadium. A draw which enables St. Andrews to move to just one point behind Qormi and leaves Mosta one point behind Sliema.
St. Andrews managed to break the deadlock nine minutes in the second half when off an assist by Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre from the right, Lucky Victor Oseghale slotted the ball past goalkeeper Omar Borg.
Eleven minutes from time, Mosta equalised thanks to Sibi Gwar who placed the ball at the back of the net from close range following a freekick from the right.
Mosta threatened to take the lead on the 85th minute but James Brincat’s powerful drive from outside the area hit the crossbar. Five minutes later, the Blues were reduced to ten men after Tyrone Farrugia was given marching orders by the referee after receiving a second yellow card.
MOSTA Omar Borg, Edile Micheletti, Tyrone Farrugia, Fatai Alabi, Osa Guobadia, Godwin Mensha, Dyson Falzon (63′ Sibi Gwar), Onyekachi Okonkwo (45+1′ Lyden Micallef), Jonas Rodriguez Ekani, James Brincat, Kyle Frendo.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Kurt Camilleri, Calvin Camilleri, Dexter Xuereb, Adrian Borg.
Coach: Anton Cremona
ST. ANDREWS Jake Galea, Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre, Dale Camilleri, Bong Won Che, Jonathan Perez Cuesta, Lucky Victor Oseghale (69′ Kyrian Nwoko), Michel Salomon Wisdom Aka, Joseph Farrugia, Chinatu Francis Onwudinjo, Michael Johnson, Eloy Edu Nkene.
Subs not used: Dorian Bugeja, Jacob Walker, Clyde Cumbo, Marcus Grima, Liam Grech, Ryan Sammut.
Coach: Jose Borg
Referee: Sandro Spiteri
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: J. Farrugia, T. Farrugia
Scorers: 54′ Lucky Victor Oseghale, 79′ Sibi Gwar
BOV Player of the Match: Lucky Victor Oseghale