Hamrun Spartans returned to winning ways after two back-to-back defeats in their last two league matches as they defeated Sliema Wanderers 2-1 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium. A win which puts them just one point behind Sliema.
This was another disappointing result for the Blues who were coming from another defeat to Tarxien Rainbows last week.
The Wanderers had four changes from the team which lost to Tarxien as Marko Potezica, Beppe Muscat, Peter Xuereb and Frank Temile replaced Gabriel Aquilina, Roger de Souza Villas Boas, Mandinho and Gary Muir who has now joined Birkirkara. Hamrun, on the other hand, had five changes as David Cassar, Luis Vergara Rodriguez, Manolito Micallef, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza and new signing Karl Micallef replaced Fredrick Tabone, Patrick Teixeira, Philip Chircop, Saturday Nanapere and the injured Jorge Mesqueu Neto.
The Wanderers went close on the 17th minute with a Jean Paul Farrugia header hitting the woodwork. Hamrun replied with a Jake Grech freekick which was deflected into a corner on the 26th minute.
Just before half-time, Hamrun were awarded a penalty after John Mintoff handled the ball inside the area and from the penalty spot, Jake Grech converted.
The Spartans doubled the score when substitute Saturday Nanapere concluded a good run by serving Jake Grech on the right and off the latter’s cross shot, Marko Potezica deflected the ball past goalkeeper Zammit for an own goal.
To make matters worse for Sliema, John Mintoff was dismissed on the 66th after receiving a second yellow card following a late tackle on Giusti.
Sliema were awarded a penalty after Jean Paul Farrugia was fouled inside the area on the 70th minute; from the penalty spot, Denni Rocha dos Santos’ effort beat goalkeeper David Cassar.
Eleven minutes from time, the Spartans were unlucky to hit the crossbar with a Massimiliano Giusti effort which hit the crossbar and the ball bounced into the goalkeeper and into a corner.
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Frank Temile, Marko Potezica, Stefano Bianciardi (88′ Gabriel Aquilina), Peter Xuereb, Wisdom Salomon (51′ Ryan Spiteri), Denni Rocha dos Santos, John Mintoff, Mark Scerri, Beppe Muscat, Jean Paul Farrugia.
Subs not used: Giuseppe Sarao,, Matias Muchardi, Luca Brincat, Andrea Martinelli, Gary Muscat.
Coach: John Buttigieg
HAMRUN David Cassar, Leandro Wallace Motta dos Santos (57′ Saturday Nanapere), Karl Micallef, Luke Sciberras, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (80′ Patrick Jean Teixeira Maia), Massimiliano Giusti (85′ Philip Chircop), Luke Grech, Manolito Micallef, Jake Grech, Luis Miguel Vergara Rodrigues, Sergio Raphael dos Anjos.
Subs not used: Lyden Moore, Mark Borg, Brandon Diego Paiber, Trevor Cilia.
Coach: Jacques Scerri
Referee: Matthew De Gabriele
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Giusti, Scerri, Mintoff, Raphael
Red Cards: 66′ John Mintoff
Scorers: 45+1′ Jake Grech pen, 61′ own goal Marko Potezica, 71′ Denni Rocha dos Santos
Meanwhile at the Hibernians Stadium, St. Andrews were held in a 2-2 draw by Pembroke Athleta. This was the third consecutive draw for St. Andrews while for Pembroke, this was the third draw in four matches.
Pembroke coach Artim Shaqiri named new signings Panagiotis Giannopoulos, Iraklis Roppas and Stevan Racic in the starting line-up along with Daren Falzon and the returning Andrea Scozzese. These replaced Miguel Attard, Sunday Eboh, Paltemio Barbetti, Borce Manevski and Siraj Arab. On the other hand, the returning Enmy Pena Beltre and Ante Bakmaz replaced Daniel Brandle and Bong Won Che.
St. Andrews took the lead on the 25th thanks to Ivan Edgardo Paz whose curved shot from the right beat goalkeeper Calleja Cremona.
Pembroke equalised on the 32nd minute thanks to Haruna Shola Shodiya who deflected the ball past Jake Galea following a conclusion by Arber Dhrami.
Four minutes in the second half, Pembroke went 2-1 ahead when Shola Shodiya sent Stevan Racic through and the latter beat the St. Andrews goalkeeper with a low shot.
St. Andrews were unlucky to hit the upright with an Ivan Paz freekick ten minutes in the second half.
Twelve minutes from time, the referee ordered a penalty after Shodiya challenged Pena Beltre inside the area; Ivan Paz’s effort was partially saved by the goalkeeper but the same player placed the ball at the back of the net off the rebound.
PEMBROKE Matthew Calleja Cremona, Darren Falzon, Arber Dhrami, Zoran Levnaic, Owen Bugeja, Panagiotis Giannopoulos, Iraklis Roppas, Haruna Shola Shodiya, Andrea Scozzese, Stevan Racic, Adrian Borg.
Subs not used: Craig Abdilla, Sunday Eboh, Zachary Grech, Neil Micallef, Siraj Eddin Arab, Tyron Fenech, Neil Grech.
Coach: Artim Shaqiri
ST. ANDREWS Jake Galea, Enmy Pena Beltre, Ante Bakmaz, Dale Camilleri, Felix Udoh (61’ Jacob Walker), Michael Johnson (76’ Nenad Belacevic), Karlo Kesinovic, Ivan Paz, Joseph Farrugia, Ziga Kastrevec (71’ Ryan Darmanin), Kyrian Nwoko.
Subs: Dean Sciberras, Mark Scicluna, Marcus Grima, Godwin Mckay.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Paz, Falzon, Levnaic, Racic, Bugeja
Scorers: 25’ Ivan Paz, 32’ Haruna Shola Shodiya, 49’ Stevan Racic, 79′ Ivan Paz
BOV Player of the Match: Ivan Paz
Renato Vella reporting from the Hibernians Stadium