Sliema supress Spartans
Hamrun’s volatile start to the season was supressed by Sliema Wanderers, who played with better determination and more aggression yesterday, going on to win the match 3-0.
This was Sliema’s third victory on the trot that lifted them further up the standings to confirm their present bright patch.
Of more serious concern was the overall disconnect inherent in the Spartans’ performance and especially their defender Christian Maldini, returning to the side, who was involved in all three of Sliema’s goals.
He procured a penalty in the first half, was outplayed by Jean Paul Farrugia in the second and then committed an own goal.
In the absence of the suspended Potezica, Alex Muscat played as central defender and Denni Dos Santos made a start fror Sliema.
On their part Hamrun gave a debut start to Luis Vergara in defence, playing alongside Maldini as the two centre backs. In the absence of the suspended Rafael, Luke Grech played as left back.
Sliema made the more assertive start and pinned Hamrun inside their own half. However they failed to overwork the Hamrun keeper as they were found wanting in the final third, with Wisdom and Denni missing the decisive pass.
After seven minutes, Scerri forced the Hamrun keeper Cassar to stretch himself and hold out his fierce grounder. Muchardi’s cross shot on the loose ball was cleared into safety.
Another tame header by Denni went wide and midway through the half keeper Cassar was forced to leave the pitch with a groin injury.
On 32 minutes the Sliema were awarded a penalty, on the assistant refreee’s inistance, as Maldini pulled down Muchardi inside the area. Captain Alex Muscat beat reserve keeper Matthew Farrugia from the spot to give the Wanderers a first half lead.
Hamrun showed more urgency after the restart and Nanapere had two good chances, first with a rising shot that missed the target and then with a firm header well saved by keeper Zammit.
But it was Sliema who increased their lead on 54 minutes. Jean Paul Farrugia was allowed too much space as he chased a long ball down the right flank. He went past Maldini with some neat footwork and beat keeper Farrugia with a low curling shot at the far post.
Hard as they tried to pull themselves back into the match, Hamrun remained shabby and poor, lacking bite or purpose.
Their misery was complete ten minutes from time when Denni’s free kick rebounded off the bar and Christian Maldini deflected the ball into his own goal.
When late in the match, keeper Zammit saved well on substitute Darren Falzon’s shot, it clearly showed that it was not Hamrun’s day. Balzan Valletta Hibernians Birkirkara Sliema Hamrun Floriana Gzira Tarxien Mosta St. Andrews Pembroke P 7 8 8 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 7 W 6 4 4 4 4 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 D 1 2 2 1 0 2 2 3 3 1 0 1 L F A Pts 0 16 6 19 2 14 10 14 2 10 8 14 2 15 6 13 4 11 10 12 3 15 13 11 3 9 8 11 3 10 11 9 3 8 12 9 5 9 16 7 5 6 14 6 5 8 17 4
Hamrun’s Garba shielding the ball from Sliema’s Scerri Photo: Michael Camilleri