Balzan and Birkirkara shared the spoils in a goalless draw at the National Stadium on Monday.
A draw which enables Balzan to join Mosta in sixth place on the 22-point mark, one ahead of the Stripes. However this is a distant six and seven points respectively from fifth-placed Gzira United.
Birkirkara had Claudio Bonanni and Diego Capel making his debut with the latter being included as a substitute. Cain Attard was ruled out through suspension. Balzan, on the other hand, lacked the suspended Paul Fenech and Steve Pisani.
The Stripes created the better chances early in the game with Federico Falcone’s powerful shot saved by Naumovski on the 7th minute. Balzan, however, replied with a fine freekick by Ricardo Correia which scraped past the post.
Naumovski performed a good save on a header from close range off a Diego Capel freekick from the right. Andrew Hogg then managed to turn into a corner a fine effort by Ivan Bozovic. However, in a swift counter attack, Birkirkara almost managed to break the deadlock eight minutes from time but Federico Falcone’s conclusion ended just wide. In the dying minutes, a freekick by Arthur Faria Machado for Balzan ended slightly over the post.
BALZAN Kristijan Naumovski, Dale Camilleri, Nenad Sljivic, Steve Bezzina, Michael Johnson, Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic, Stefan Dimic (81’ Samir Arab), Ricardo Correa Duarte, Arthur Faria Machado, Luke Montebello (67’ Alfred Effiong).
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Marcus Grima, Zak Grech, Samuel Barthet, Kyle Sciberras Balbi.
Coach: Jacques Scerri
Asst. Coach: Andrea Pisanu
B’KARA Andrew Hogg, Enrico Pepe, Matthew Guillaumier, Paul Mbong (67’ Diego Angel Capel Trinidad), Johann Bezzina (57’ Yannick Yankam), Roderick Briffa, Federico Falcone, Claudio Bonanni, Oscar Matias Carniello, Ryan Fenech, Isaac Toah Ntow.
Subs not used: Amara Sylla, Jeferson de Souza Ferreira, Adam Camilleri, Zachary Cassar, Michael Mifsud.
Coach: Andre Paus
Asst. Coach: Jonathan Holland
Referee: Stefan Pace
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Duncan Spencer
Fourth Official: Etienne Mangion
Yellow Cards: J. Bezzina, Bozovic
BOV Player of the Match: Stefan Dimic