Birkirkara succumb to their second defeat
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.
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