●Ram­pant Flo­ri­ana now face Ham­run Spar­tans

Malta Independent - - SPORT - Henry Brin­cat

■ The Bank of Val­letta Premier League re­sumes with another six matches be­tween today and to­mor­row.

The pro­gramme in­cludes a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing matches, but the en­counter be­tween Val­letta and Hiber­ni­ans should be con­sid­ered as the top clash.

In other matches, cur­rent lead­ers Balzan and their im­me­di­ate fol­low­ers Birkirkara will be aim­ing to main­tain their win­ning form as they face Gzira United and Pem­broke re­spec­tively.

Flo­ri­ana are also favourites to beat Ham­run to­mor­row to main­tain the pace near the top and St An­drews will also be aim­ing to re­peat the form they showed against Sliema when they face Mosta.

In the other matches, Sliema will also eye a re­turn to win­ning form as they take on Tarx­ien Rain­bows who are four points above their op­po­nents today.

As al­ready said, the top clash should be that be­tween Val­letta and Hiber­ni­ans. And after their mid­week de­feats at the hands of Flo­ri­ana and Balzan re­spec­tively, nei­ther side can af­ford another de­feat. The po­si­tion in the stand­ings shows Val­letta in third place, three points be­hind Balzan and Hibs are one fur­ther point adrift of Val­letta.

It should be a very in­ter­est­ing bat­tle be­tween these two teams and I ex­pect both coaches – Paul Zam­mit of Val­letta and Mark Miller of Hiber­ni­ans – to adopt an at­tack­ing ap­proach in the hope of re­turn­ing to win­ning form.

Of course, with the top two (Balzan and Birkirkara) favourites to win their clashes today, one can­not ex­pect Val­letta and Hiber­ni­ans to throw cau­tion to the wind as that would put them at risk of los­ing yet another top clash which could dis­tance them fur­ther from the lead­ing duo.

Val­letta will have Le­an­dro Aguirre miss­ing through sus­pen­sion.

Balzan are the sur­prise lead­ers at this stage, but con­sid­er­ing ev­ery­thing, I think they de­serve their top po­si­tion in the stand­ings.

Oliver Spiteri’s side has achieved two great re­sults in their last matches – a come from be­hind 2-2 draw against Val­letta and a 2-0 win against Hiber­ni­ans.

These four points have en­abled them to build up con­fi­dence ahead of their forth­com­ing com­mit­ments.

Their op­po­nents today, Gzira United, have started the sea­son on a very pos­i­tive note. The newly-pro­moted club has ac­quired eight points so far and has been a tough nut to crack, but it could turn out to be a dif­fer­ent ket­tle of fish when fac­ing Balzan today, when they will also have Macheda Neto miss­ing through sus­pen­sion.

Birkirkara re­sponded well to their de­feat at the hands of Sliema last week­end as they re­turned to win­ning form against Mosta on Thurs­day.

Now they face bot­tom club Pem­broke and should find lit­tle dif­fi­culty in dis­pos­ing of this side which must im­prove con­sid­er­ably to start win­ning the re­quired points to move up the stand­ings.

Flo­ri­ana are also eye­ing another win from their match against Ham­run Spar­tans to­mor­row.

Hav­ing dis­posed of Val­letta in mid­week, the Greens are bub­bling with en­thu­si­asm. They showed that they had for­got­ten all about their un­ex­pected de­feat against Tarx­ien and they are now look­ing for­ward to more pos­i­tive re­sults.

The Spar­tans also failed in mid­week as they lost 1-2 to Tarx­ien Rain­bows. Steve D’Amato’s side

P W D Balzan 5 4 1 Birkirkara 5 4 0 Val­letta 5 3 1 Hiber­ni­ans 5 3 0 Flo­ri­ana 5 3 0 Gzira U 5 2 2 Ham­run S 5 2 1 Tarx­ien R 5 2 1 St. An­drews 5 2 0 Sliema W 5 1 0 Mosta 5 1 0 Pem­broke A 5 0 0 will now hope to over­turn the tide in their favour.

St An­drews must be con­sid­ered as the sur­prise pack­age this sea­son – at least so far. In fact, they have al­ready col­lected six valu­able points when last year it took them over four months to start win­ning their first points though they even­tu­ally man­aged to save their sta­tus in a de­cider.

After their sur­prise 3-0 win against Sliema in mid­week, they now have another com­mit­ment to­mor­row from which they could win another three im­por­tant points.

This time they face Mosta who suf­fered a 2-0 de­feat at the hands of Birkirkara on Thurs­day. Mosta are fac­ing trou­ble at this early stage and un­less they im­prove, they might find it dif­fi­cult to move up the ta­ble. More­over, Mosta have Adrian Caru­ana ruled out through sus­pen­sion for this match.

In the fi­nal match, Sliema face another dif­fi­cult hur­dle in the form of Tarx­ien Rain­bows.

The Blues were taken com­pletely by sur­prise by St An­drews in mid­week, but they were to­tally unim­pres­sive as they were beaten 3-0.

Against the im­proved Tarx­ien, John But­tigieg’s side will have to play much bet­ter if they want to achieve a pos­i­tive re­sult.

The Rain­bows have shown con­sid­er­able im­prove­ment fol­low­ing the 1-0 de­feat at the hands of St An­drews on 11 Septem­ber. In fact, they won two matches in suc­ces­sion and now they are eye­ing a third.

Ac­tion from last Thurs­day’s top clash be­tween Balzan and Hiber­ni­ans - Photo Michael Camil­leri

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