Two big matches in mid­week pro­gramme

● Valletta face arch ri­vals Flo­ri­ana to­day ● Balzan face Hiber­ni­ans to­mor­row

Malta Independent - - SPORT - To­mor­row, Hiber­ni­ans

The Bank of Valletta Pre­mier League en­ters its fifth batch of matches in the first round with two top clashes – one to­day and an­other to­mor­row.

Two matches are be­ing played to­day, one of which is the City and sub­ur­ban derby be­tween arch ri­vals Valletta and Flo­ri­ana. In the only other match to­day, St An­drews will be meet­ing Sliema Wan­der­ers.

An­other four matches are be­ing played to­mor­row, one of which is the top of the ta­ble clash be­tween Balzan and Hiber­ni­ans.

The other matches are Tarx­ienHam­run, Gzira-Pem­broke and Birkirkara-Mosta.

After the week­end matches we have two joint lead­ers in­stead of the pre­vi­ous three. This is be­cause Valletta and Balzan drew their en­counter 2-2, while Birkirkara suf­fered their first de­feat against Sliema.

But ev­ery­thing is tight at the top with only one point sep­a­rat­ing the top four clubs.

The Valletta-Flo­ri­ana clash, as usual, is ex­pected to be full of fire with both sets of fans keep­ing the old tra­di­tional ri­valry alive.

Valletta have a four-point lead over their ri­vals at present, but must have been very dis­ap­pointed to have squan­dered a first half 2-0 lead against Balzan last Satur­day, al­low­ing the other joint lead­ers to come from be­hind to snatch a point from a 2-2 draw.

The ci­ti­zens must be aware that Flo­ri­ana will cer­tainly pro­vide them with tough op­po­si­tion even if Tedesco’s men suf­fered an un­ex­pected 1-0 de­feat at the hands of Tarx­ien Rain­bows on Satur­day.

I ex­pect the Greens to do their ut­most to get some­thing pos­i­tive from this match even if they are aware that it is al­ways a dif­fi­cult task against their neigh­bours.

Balzan did well to come back strongly against Valletta to earn a point. Now they face an­other dif­fi­cult hur­dle as they take on Hiber­ni­ans, only one point be­hind them in the stand­ings.

This match to­mor­row prom­ises to be an­other keen en­counter, and Hibs will have to show bet­ter form than they did against Pem­broke on Sun­day when they only got away with all the three points thanks to a very late win­ner.

Birkirkara have a chance to re­turn to win­ning form after their un­ex­pected de­feat at the hands of the Wan­der­ers on Sun­day. To­mor­row, they take on Mosta who fi­nally man­aged to win their first points and match of the season, de­feat­ing Gzira by the odd goal in three on Satur­day.

An­other in­ter­est­ing and keen match should be the clash be­tween Tarx­ien Rain­bows and Hamrun Spar­tans.

Both sides reg­is­tered good wins the past week­end and will be eye­ing an­other win to­mor­row to move fur­ther up the ta­ble.

The same can be said of to­day’s clash be­tween Sliema and St An­drews.

Sliema must have been more than pleased to have notched their first win and points of the season fol­low­ing their de­served win against ti­tle chal­lengers Birkirkara.

They will now be fac­ing a St An­drews side which suc­cumbed 3-1 to Hamrun at the week­end after hav­ing taken the lead.

The other match in this mid­week pro­gramme is that be­tween Gzira and Pem­broke – an­other clash which should be a close af­fair.

Pem­broke gave ti­tle chal­lengers Hiber­ni­ans a good run for their money on Sun­day in a nar­row 2-1 de­feat, while Gzira suf­fered their first loss when go­ing down 2-1 to Mosta.

They both need to re­turn to win­ning form to move up the stand­ings.

Pro­gramme

To­day, Na­tional Sta­dium 6pm St An­drews-Sliema W. 8pm Flo­ri­ana-Valletta Sta­dium 6pm Tarx­ien R.-Hamrun S. 8pm Hiber­ni­ans-Balzan To­mor­row, Vic­tor Tedesco Sta­dium 6pm Gzira U.-Pem­broke Ath. 8.15pm Birkirkara-Mosta Valletta Balzan Birkirkara Hiber­ni­ans Hamrun Flo­ri­ana Gzira Tarx­ien Sliema Mosta St. An­drews Pem­broke 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 2 1 2 3 3 3 4 10 8 11 7 8 5 4 2 3 5 3 4 4 10 5 10 3 9 5 9 5 7 4 6 4 5 6 4 5 3 8 3 10 3 11 0

Ac­tion from Flo­ri­ana-Valletta to­wards the end of last season

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