A goal two minutes from time and another in stoppage time handed Birkirkara a win over a Floriana side reduced to ten men late in the first half at the National Stadium on Sunday.
The Stripes therefore bounced back from the defeat to Valletta last week to join Balzan and Sliema Wanderers in second place, one point behind leaders Gzira United. For Floriana, this was the third defeat in four matches but they could consider themselves unlucky to leave the pitch empty-handed considering their performance.
Floriana coach Luis Oliveira made no changes to the team which had defeated Hibernians 2-0 last week. On the other hand, Cain Attard and Thiago de Souza de Brito replaced Michael Mifsud and Uchenna Calistus Umeh.
Birkirkara went close on the 7th minute with a Marcelinho angled shot from the left which was neutralised by Akpan. Four minutes later, Floriana appealed for a penalty as Juninho Cabral was challenged by Cain Attard inside the area but the referee waved play on.
The Greens were reduced to ten men six minutes from the end of the first half when Alex Cini received a second yellow card for a foul on Marcelinho
Marcelinho tested Akpan with an overhead kick on the 74th minute. A fine effort by Ignacio Varela was turned into a corner by Naumovski a minute later. Substitute Daniel Agius then had a low shot from the left blocked by the Macedonian goalkeeper.
Birkirkara took the lead on the 88th minute thanks to a fine first-time volley by captain Mislav Andjelkovic following a short clearance.
Jake Grech could have added another three minutes in added time when he advanced all alone but the goalkeeper neutralised his attempt.
Jurgen Pisani almost notched the equaliser a few seconds later with a great header following a cross from the left but Naumovski was superb in saving his effort.
In a swift counter-attack, Marcelinho served Jake Grech who slotted the ball past Akpan from inside the area to double the score.
FLORIANA Ini Etim Akman, Enzo Ruiz, Steve Pisani (83′ Dylan Grima), Ignacio Varela, Maurizio Vella (73′ Daniel Agius), Juninho Cabral, Clayton Failla, Jurgen Pisani, Alex Cini, Arthur Henrique Oyama (83′ Clyde Borg), Emerson Marcelina.
Subs not used: Christopher Farrugia, Patrick Wleh, Bradley Sciberras, Jake Stenson.
Coach: Luis Oliveira
Asst. Coach: Ryan Newell
B’KARA Kristijan Naumovski, Danilo Augusto Chapoval, Mislav Andjelkovic, Paul Fenech, Kurt Zammit (55′ Myles Beerman), Eduardo Ferreira dos Santos, Cain Attard, Terence Agius (55′ Edward Herrera), Marcelo Franca de Siqueira, Thiago Esmerindo de Souza, Milan Basrak (75′ Jake Grech).
Subs not used: David Cassar, Matthew Guillaumier, Ryan Scicluna, Gianluca Zammit.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Mark Buttigieg
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Jurgen Spiteri, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Matthew De Gabriele
Yellow Cards: Zammit, Chapoval, Cini, Grech
BOV Player of the Match: Marcelo Franca de Siqueira