Malta Football Association
Balzan back on top as Hibs held
Feb 27, 2017
Posted in:
BOV Premier League

The jockeying for positions in the upper reaches of the BOV Premier League standings shows no signs of receding as only six points separate the leading four teams with 10 games remaining. The first six matches from the third round of the top division resulted in victories for leaders Balzan, third and fourth-placed Valletta and Floriana and Gżira United, with Hibernians failing to go top after sharing the points against Ħamrun Spartans, and Birkirkara doing likewise when being held to a 2-2 draw by St Andrews.

In the weekend’s curtain raiser, Balzan returned to winning form after completing a 7-1 rout of strugglers Mosta.


Goals from Alfred Effiong, Bojan Kaljevic (two), Matteo Piciollo, Alan da Silva Souza and two more from Lydon Micallef in the final 15 minutes handed Balzan an emphatic win after Mosta had taken a 1-0 lead with a goal by Victor Lucky Oseghale.


In the following match on Friday, Valletta chalked up their fourth win of the season, their third in the championship, at the expense of Sliema Wanderers.


The Blues, who are resigned to at least a mid-table position, had forged ahead through Mark Scerri 18 minutes into the second half, but the City team turned the tables on their opponents with a brace from Argentine newcomer from Maximiliano Velasco (twice) and Umeh Uchenna Calistus.


Hibernians failed to reclaim top spot on Saturday as they could not shake off the gritty resistance of Ħamrun Spartans in a thrilling game that ended 3-3.


Goals were traded early on by the in-form Jurgen Degabriele for Hibs and Brandon Paiber’s penalty for the Spartans.


The Spartans grabbed the lead through a Leandro Motta header but Brazilian Gilmar equalised for the Paolites midway into the first half.


Degabriele's second goal 10 minutes into the second half gave Mark Miller’s side a 3-2 advantage but the Spartans refused to buckle.


Their efforts were rewarded midway into the second half when Massimiliano Giusti netted the equaliser after a fine individual move. That goal meant that the Paolites remain on 47 points, one behind leaders Balzan while ninth-placed Ħamrun, who ended a run of four consecutive defeats, are on 27 points.


Floriana’s charge towards the top is still gaining momentum after their cantering 2-0 win over wooden-spoonists Pembroke Athleta.


Goals from Ignacio Varela and Enzo Ruiz kept the Greens in the top-four reckoning with 42 points, two fewer than Valletta in third place and four above Birkirkara.


The Stripes, on their part, contrived to drop two points when they were held to a two-all draw by St Andrews, ninth in the standings.


Birkirkara twice went ahead through goals from Miguel Angel Alba (penalty) and Gonzalo Malan but Malta U-21 striker Kyrian Nwoko, who was named BOV player of the match, hit a brace to earn St Andrews a point.


Both teams finished the game with 10 men after Birkirkara midfielder Ryan Scicluna and Enmy Manuel Beltre, the St Andrews wing-back, were sent off midway into the second half.


Also on Saturday, Gżira United obtained an important 1-0 win against Tarxien Rainbows to lift themselves to a less precarious position in the table.


The all-important goal was scored by Moises Avila Perez seven minutes from the end after Tarxien were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Alex Alves for two yellow cards. Tarxien’s defeat, the second consecutive one, left them on the 29-point mark, two behind Sliema. 

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