Birkirkara suc­cumb to their sec­ond de­feat

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Be­fore the be­gin­ning of the match, it seemed that Birkirkara were ready to clinch their fifth win of the cam­paign, leav­ing Pem­broke empty handed again. But foot­ball is not played on pa­per, as the Ath­leta man­aged to defy the odds, beat­ing Birkirkara 21, claim­ing their first win and also their first points.

On the other hand, Birkirkara lost their sec­ond game of the league in a sim­i­lar fash­ion that they lost to Sliema, as like Pem­broke, Sliema also were search­ing their first points.

Pem­broke’s per­for­mance was bril­liant as they shared the game with their op­po­nents, de­spite hav­ing to de­fend for most of the game. Bar­betti was in­stru­men­tal in mid­field, while Scozzese, Lev­naic and Borg con­trolled the de­fen­sive sec­tor, with Si­raj Arab and Mano Mi­callef run­ning through the right side.

Coach Win­ston Mus­cat made three changes from their last de­feat as Maksy­mov and Djeljilj started in­stead of Manevski and At­tard, while Matthew Calleja Cre­mona was pre­ferred in goal be­fore vet­eran Mario Mus­cat.

On the other hand, Birkirkara coach Be­sek made no less than five changes from the team that beat Mosta. Steve Bon­nici, Ed­ward Her­rera and Shaun Ba­jada started in­stead of Pre­drag Jovic, Joseph Zer­afa and Cain At­tard while Ryan Sci­cluna and Vito Plut started in the first 11, re­plac­ing Gareth Sciber­ras and Rowen Mus­cat.

Pem­broke cre­ated the first dan­ger af­ter ten min­utes with a di­ag­o­nal shot by Mano Mi­callef that fin­ished off tar­get.

Birkirkara’s first threat came just af­ter 24 min­utes when from a cor­ner by Ba­jada, Steve Bon­nici rose above his op­po­nents but failed to hit the net, as his header fin­ished over the bar.

Win­ston Mus­cat’s team came close ten min­utes from the break as Ko­pric had to turn into a cor­ner, a header by Djeljilj. But a minute later, Pem­broke took the lead as Djeljilj crossed from the left side where he found Adrian Borg who slot­ted the ball into the net af­ter he took ad­van­tage from an in­de­ci­sion by Ko­pric.

Birkirkara didn’t make a re­ac­tion till the end of the first half, and Pem­broke went also close to a sec­ond goal just be­fore the end of the first 45 min­utes. It was a free-kick by Bar­betti that found An­drea Scozzese who headed the ball in the di­rec­tion of goal, but Ko­pric man­aged to tip the ef­fort, with the ball also hit­ting the post.

Birkirkara were a bit bet­ter af­ter the break and on the 53rd minute, Sci­cluna crossed to Djord­je­vic who headed on goal, but the ef­fort didn’t trou­ble Calleja Cre­mona.

On the 58th minute, Calleja Cre­mona had to tip away a dan­ger­ous cross-shot by Sr­dan Dim­itrov. But on the hour mark, Birkirkara equalised through a bril­liant goal by Frank Temile who gave no chance to Calleja Cre­mona with a pow­er­ful left foot shot from the edge of the box.

De­spite the goal con­ceded, Pem­broke kept their heads in the game and on the 65th minute, they could have re­gained the lead af­ter a good run on the right by Si­raj Arab. He crossed a low ball to Bernardo Mar­i­ano but he missed the chance to con­clude from an ideal po­si­tion. Bar­betti caught Ko­pric off-guard a minute later, and tried a shot from half the pitch but the Birkirkara goal­keeper man­aged to save in time.

Pem­broke’s sec­ond goal ar­rived on the 68th minute as Bernardo Mar­i­ano fin­ished a per­sonal ac­tion on the right side and, with­out be­ing tack­led, beat Ko­pric with a shot in his left cor­ner.

This goal seemed to freeze Birkirkara as de­spite play­ing the last 25 min­utes of the game on the at­tack, they couldn’t threaten the op­po­nents’ post with a se­ri­ous ac­tion, as Pem­broke man­aged to hold on to claim their first win.

Stand­ings

Balzan Birkirkara Hiber­ni­ans Val­letta Flo­ri­ana Ham­run Gzira Tarx­ien Sliema Mosta St. An­drews Pem­broke P W D 6 5 1 6 4 0 6 4 0 6 3 1 6 3 1 6 2 2 6 2 2 6 2 1 6 2 0 6 2 0 6 2 0 6 1 0 L 0 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 4 5

F 13 14 9 10 8 10 8 5 5 6 6 6 APts 6 16 5 12 7 12 8 10 5 10 8 8 7 8 9 7 9 6 10 6 11 6 15 3

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