Hibernians hope to extend lead as Valletta face Birkirkara

Leaders Hibernians will be hoping to extend the lead on top the BOV Premier League table as they take on Gzira United while Valletta face Birkirkara in two of the matches in programme on Saturday.

Balzan face St. Andrews and Pembroke Athleta take on Tarxien Rainbows in the other two matches.
Balzan vs St. Andrews, kick-off 16:00 at Hibernians Stadium
After losing three out of the last four matches, Balzan will be aiming for the three points as they take on St. Andrews. Oliver Spiteri’s side is now third – five points behind Hibernians and one behind Valletta. They suffered defeats to Hibs, Valletta and Birkirkara, defeating Gzira in the other match. St. Andrews, on the other hand, are currently seventh on 34 points and are coming from back-to-back wins over Mosta and Pembroke.

For Balzan, Samir Arab is still suspended while St. Andrews should be in full strength.

Balzan defeated St. Andrews 3-0 and 1-0 in the previous rounds.

Hibernians vs Gzira United, kick-off 18:00 at Hibernians Stadium
Hibernians eye the three points from the clash with Gzira United as they aim to extend the lead over second-placed Valletta. Apart from the narrow defeat to Valletta, the Paolites won the other five matches, including last Sunday’s dramatic 3-2 win over Floriana. Gzira, on the other hand, won just two out of the last five matches but managed to hold Valletta in a 1-1 draw last week.

Juan Carlos Corbalan is ruled out for Gzira as he serves a one-match ban.

Gzira held Hibernians in a 1-1 draw in the first round but the Paolites won the second round clash 3-0.

Pembroke Athleta vs Tarxien Rainbows, kick-off 16:00 at National Stadium
After failing to win any of their last ten matches, Tarxien Rainbows will be hoping to return to winning ways on Saturday as they take on bottom-placed Pembroke Athleta who lost their last eight matches and now lie five points behind second-from-bottom side Mosta. Pembroke conceded twenty-seven goals in the last six matches and are coming from a 0-6 defeat to neighbours St. Andrews in their last outing. Tarxien, on the other hand, lost 1-3 to Mosta last week.

Tarxien’s Kurt Zammit and Pembroke’s Tonci Radnikovic are both suspended but the Rainbows welcome back Ebiabowei Baker and Sacha Borg.

The first round clash between Tarxien and Pembroke ended in a 2-2 draw but Tarxien registered a 7-1 win in the second round.

Valletta vs Birkirkara, kick-off 18:00 at National Stadium
After dropping two points in a draw with Gzira United, Valletta cannot afford any result other than a win as they take on rivals Birkirkara in this weekend’s big match from the BOV Premier League. This draw saw the Citizens lose ground with leaders Hibernians just a few days after defeating the Paolites in a direct clash.

Fourth-placed Birkirkara, on the other hand, defeated Balzan 3-1 last week in the first of three clashes which will put them against the top three teams. This third consecutive win extended Birkirkara’s positive run to seven matches whilst strengthening their position in the table as they now lie four points ahead of Floriana.

Valletta could not count on the suspended Steve Borg and Claudio Pani but Uchenna Calistus Umeh will be back after serving a one-match ban. Hibernians, on the other hand, should be in full strength.

Following a 1-1 draw in the first round, Valletta defeated Birkirkara 1-0 in the second.