Samb and Fontanella strikes earn derby spoils for Floriana
Floriana were back to winning ways and what better impetus than beating neighbours Valletta in this much awaited derby.
This was one of the more sterile encounters between old rivals, with little quality on show and some of the big name performers in both sides failing to enliven the occasion.
For Valletta, badly missing their injured talisman Roderick Briffa, there were too many missed passes, little understanding in the opposition penalty area and in the end Floriana keeper Haber never produced a real save.
Floriana did not create a great deal but used their three midfielders Steve Pisani, Ryan Camenzuli and Nicolas Chiesa to stifle and keep their opponents pressed back. They almost always operated on the counter, staying composed at the back.
Valletta had dropped their first points this season with a 2-2 draw against Balzan on Saturday. Yesterday they made two changes in their starting line-up with Ryan Camilleri and Llywelyn Cremona preferred to Juan Cruz and Romeu Romao.
Even worse, Floriana went into this fixture trying to improve on a dismal run of two consecutive defeats. Mario Fontanella was dropped to the substitute’s bench but came in the second half to score his side’s second goal.
Both sides neatly spread the ball around in the initial stages but there was a desperate lack of threat and they produced little for the first half hour except for a Floriana free kick which Vella sent narrowly off target.
Floriana put several men behind the ball, with Monticelli the anchor in front of a four-man defence, but their ability to switch the play in a split second ensured teh champions could never relax.
On the half hour,Floriana broke the deadlock. Cini managed to pass the ball through the static Valletta defenders for Amadou Samb who, standing on the edge of the area seemed to lose control with his first touch but steaded himself to beat keeper Bonello with a low strike at the near post.
On 39 minutes Samb’s cross fell to Steve Pisani, whose shot was repelled by the Valletta keeper as the Greens grew in confidence.
In the half’s added time, Jhonnattann should have put Valletta on level terms. The ball found him unmarked inside the Floriana area on the left but took a touch too much and finally shot wide.
The mildly interesting rather than exactly magical tone continued well into the seond half, with Valletta substituting Camilleri with Romao.
Floriana were having slightly the edge in terms of posssession but stil falling short in the final third. Aware that something had to change, Floriana coach Giovanni Tedesco put in Fontanella for Vella towards the hour.
On 55 minutes Jhonnattann advanced on the left but his diagonal low drive went wide. His direct free kick eight minutes later, went staright in keeper Haber’s hands.
Floriana struck again on the counter on 69 minutes. Steve Pisani lobbed a long ball inside the Valletta area as substitute Mario Fontanella beat the offside trap and hit first time past the helpless keeper Bonello.
Looking demoralised, Valletta introduced further attacking pace in the shape of Micahel Mifsud but the closest he came was a shot from the edge of the area blocked by the Floriana defenders.
Valletta’s misery was complete when in the dying minutes defender Leandro Aguirre was sent off, probably for retaliation. Valletta Balzan Birkirkara Hibernians Floriana Hamrun S St. Andrews Gzira U Tarxien R Sliema W Mosta Pembroke A P 5 4 4 4 5 4 5 4 4 5 4 4 W 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 1 0 D 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 L 1 0 1 1 2 1 3 1 2 4 3 4
F A Pts 10 6 10 8 5 10 11 3 9 7 5 9 7 4 9 8 5 7 6 10 6 4 4 5 2 6 4 3 8 3 5 8 3 4 11 0
Floriana’s Samb and Valletta’s Cremona tackle for the ball - Photo:Michael Camilleri