Naxxar Lions and Pembroke Athleta shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at the National Stadium. A result which failed to satisfy either side as Naxxar needed the three points to move further away from the bottom two while Pembroke would have secured their Premier League status with a win.
With three games to go for the end of the season, Pembroke are therefore ninth on 18 points, followed by Naxxar on 11, St. Andrews 7 and Qormi 5. The latter two have a game in hand.
Pembroke lacked the injured Patmore Shereni and Leighton Grech while Naxxar could not count on former Pembroke striker Demba Toure as he was suspended.
On the 18th minute, Naxxar goalkeeper Alberto Gallinetta turned into a corner a freekick by Paltemio Barbetti.
Four minutes in the second half, it was the turn of Mario Muscat to perform a fine save into a corner on David Fenech, served on the left by Eduardo Vallecillo. Three minutes later, Manolito Micallef cleared off the goal line Daren Falzon’s effort direct from a corner.
Twelve minutes from time, Pembroke were reduced to ten men after referee Stefan Pace sent off Paltemio Barbetti for pushing an opponent.
However three minutes later, Pembroke took the lead when off a cross from the right, Gustavo Villalobos headed home past goalkeeper Gallinetta.
But it was not over yet as one minute from time, Naxxar Lions levelled matters as Mario Muscat saved partially a freekick from the right by Falzon and off the rebound, Ennio Hamutenya placed the ball at the back of the net.
In added time, Pembroke could have regained the lead when a corner from the right by Laudisi created havoc inside the area with Andrew Scicluna finally clearing the ball off the goal line.
NAXXAR Alberto Gallinetta, Andrew Scicluna, Ryan Grech, Eduardo Vallecillo Casado, Daren Falzon, Jose Angel Godar Pereira, David Fenech (66′ Jurgen Debono), Angus Buhagiar, Ennio Hamutenya, Mark Fenech (77′ Duane Bonnici), Nikola Tasic.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Alvaro Javier Hungria Rosero, Joel Ellul, Ryan Mercieca, Adam Pace.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
PEMBROKE Mario Muscat, Alex Cini, Miguel Attard, Zoran Levnaic, Owen Bugeja (70′ Sunday Eboh), Paltemio Barbetti, Kyle O’Brien, Gustavo Villalobos, Manolito Micallef (88′ Gustavo de Paulo da Nobrega), Siraj Arab Eddin (65′ Obinna Obiefule), Ariel Laudisi.
Subs not used: Matthew Farrugia, Geoffrey Spiteri, Tyrone Fenech, Rennie Tanti.
Coach: Winston Muscat
Referee: Stefan Pace
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Cini, Buhagiar, Falzon, Vallecillo
Red Cards: 78′ Paltemio Barbetti
Scorers: 82′ Gustavo Villlobos, 89′ Ennio Hamutenya
BOV Player of the Match: Ariel Laudisi