Tricky test for leaders Balzan

Balzan will be hoping for a win in their bid to retain the top spot as they take on in-form Tarxien Rainbows in one of the four matches in programme at the Hibernians Stadium and the Victor Tedesco Stadium.

Valletta take on St. Andrews, Pembroke Athleta face Hamrun Spartans and Mosta cross swords with Sliema Wanderers in the other three matches.

Pembroke Athleta vs Hamrun Spartans, kick-off 14:00 at Hibernians Stadium
Hamrun Spartans start as firm favourites to collect another three points as they take on Pembroke Athleta who are coming from a most disappointing 1-7 defeat to Tarxien Rainbows in their last outing. The Spartans registered back-to-back wins over Sliema and Mosta and are currently eighth, just one point behind Tarxien and Sliema. Pembroke, on the other hand, continue to share the bottom spot with Mosta after losing five out of the last eight matches.

The Spartans welcome back Massimiliano Giusti after serving a one-match ban. Pembroke, on the other hand, could have Raphael Alain Kooh Sohna making his debut after spells with Pietà Hotspurs, Valletta, Gzira United and Ghajnsielem.

In the first round, Hamrun beat Pembroke 2-1.

Balzan vs Tarxien Rainbows, kick-off 16:00 at Hibernians Stadium
Balzan are in for a tricky test as they take on a Tarxien Rainbows side which won the last four matches against Hamrun, Sliema, Mosta and Pembroke to move sixth. The leaders won three out of the last five matches and enjoy just a one-point lead over second-placed Hibernians. Last week, Balzan registered a narrow win over St. Andrews.

Ebiabowei Baker returns for Tarxien after serving a one-match ban.

In the first round, Tarxien and Balzan shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw.

Mosta vs Sliema Wanderers, kick-off 14:00 at Victor Tedesco Stadium
After a fine display and a 3-1 win over Floriana, Sliema eye another three points from the clash with Mosta who failed to win any of their last thirteen matches, losing nine including back-to-back defeats to Tarxien and Hamrun in their last two outings.

Sliema welcome back John Mintoff and should have Jonathan Pearson and Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte making their debut after joining the club from Hibernians and Gzira United respectively. David Fenech is suspended for Mosta who earlier this week signed goalkeeper Andreas Vella from Birkirkara and released Manuel Bartolo.

Mosta held Sliema in a 1-1 draw in the first round.

Valletta vs St. Andrews, kick-off 16:15 at Victor Tedesco Stadium
Following a narrow win over rivals Birkirkara, Valletta cannot afford to drop any points in the clash with St. Andrews in their bid to keep the pace with leaders Balzan and second-placed Hibernians. The Saints won just one out of the last eight matches but collected another five points in draws. However they are coming from a narrow loss to leaders Balzan in their last outing.

Making his debut for St. Andrews should be Aiden Friggieri who joined the club from Sliema while Ivan Edgardo Paz should be back after serving a one-match ban. Valletta welcome back Rowen Muscat who missed the last game against Birkirkara and could have Argentine striker Maximiliano Alejandro Velasco making his first appearance for the club.

In the firsr round, Valletta were held in a goalless draw by St. Andrews.