Sliema con­tinue their up­ward mo­men­tum

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Back-to-back wins against Tarx­ien Rain­bows and ‘old firm’ ri­vals Flo­ri­ana yes­ter­day, lift Sliema Wan­der­ers in mid-table on nine points , same as Gzira United.

The Wan­der­ers had to fight back from a goal down scored by Mario Fon­tanella af­ter 12 min­utes but they man­aged to turn the macth on its head with three goals within 15 min­utes to take a com­fort­able lead by half­time.

Sliema had their cen­tral de­fender Marco Potezika, scorer of their third goal, sent off early in the sec­ond half but de­fended their lead with min­i­mal dif­fi­culty against tame op­po­nents, who only threat­ened with a Ruiz free kick that thumped against the bar.

The Greens are on a run of poor form and have only one win out of five and re­main in sixth place. Yes­ter­day they missed a good op­por­tu­nity to climb fur­ther up into sec­ond place.

Sliema coach John But­tigieg did not change his start­ing line-up from the one that beat Tarx­ien Rain­bows while Flo­ri­ana, with coach Gio­vanni Tedesco and his as­sis­tant Sal­va­tore Caleca both sus­pended, pre­ferred Ig­na­cio Varela in­stead of Ryan Ca­men­zuli.

Flo­ri­ana’s break­through af­ter 12 min­utes ex­posed a fa­mil­iar weak­ness in the Sliema rear­guard.Mario Fon­tanella chased a long through ball from the mid­dle, beat the Sliema off­side trap and turned round goal­keeper Zam­mit be­fore de­posit­ing into an unat­tended goal.

The Wan­der­ers looked like a dif­fer­ent team af­ter con­ced­ing as they took the game to Flo­ri­ana and went into half­time with a 3-1 lead.

First they lev­elled mat­ters mid­way through the half. On a Muchardi sail­ing free kick from the left, Jean Paul Far­ru­gia scored with a firm header, the ball slip­ping un­der­neath keeper Haber.

They forged ahead past the half hour as Muchardi played an­other pass to Salomon Wis­dom who beat the Flo­ri­ana keeper with a hard di­ag­o­nal grounder.

And they even in­creased their lead four min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val as they broke on the counter through Marko Potez­ica’s lovely ex­change with Mintoff, run­ning in for the re­turn

P W D L F A Pts Balzan 7 6 1 0 16 6 19 Birkirkara 7 4 1 2 15 6 13 Hiber­ni­ans 7 4 1 2 10 8 13 Ham­run 7 3 2 2 15 10 11 Val­letta 7 3 2 2 11 9 11 Flo­ri­ana 7 3 1 3 9 8 10 Gzira 7 2 3 2 9 8 9 Sliema 7 3 0 4 8 10 9 Tarx­ien 7 2 2 3 7 11 8 Mosta 7 2 0 5 8 15 6 St. An­drews 7 2 0 5 6 14 6 Pem­broke 7 1 1 5 8 17 4 pass to blast past the help­less Haber.

Sliema in­tro­duced Denni Dos San­tos for the sec­ond half, af­ter the player made his re­turn with the club he used to play for last sea­son but were down to ten men af­ter only four min­utes. Potez­ica was sent off for hack­ing down the ad­vanc­ing Vella out­side the area.

Mark Scerri re­treated deeper in de­fence. Mon­ti­celli played in a more ad­vanced role as Ryan Ca­men­zuli went in for Alex Cini.

The Greens tried to wear their op­po­nents down but rarely of­fered a threat ex­cept when Ca­men­zuli ran in from the right but keeper Zam­mit rushed off his line to blcock.

On 64 min­utes Flo­ri­ana went close with a Ruiz di­rect free kick that re­bounded off the junc­tion of the bar.

On the other end Denni tried to lob the ball from a dis­tance but Haber was alert and stretched him­self to turn into a cor­ner.

But as the min­utes ticked away, Flo­ri­ana were show­ing less con­vic­tion. Sliema re­mained calm and in con­trol and could de­fend their lead with min­i­mal dif­fi­culty.

Jean Paul Far­ru­gia of Sliema Wan­der­ers (left) in a chal­lenge with Enzo Ruiz of Flo­ri­ana (right) Photo:Domenic Aquilina

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