Pembroke left reeling at the bottom
St Andrews were back in the groove after two consecutive defeats, to leave the relegation zone and leapfrog Mosta after beating ten-man Pembroke.
St Andrews were under the guidance of new coach Danilo Doncic after they let go Jose’ Borg during the international break.
Pembroke are well organised, industrious and whole-hearted, but short of penetration. They conceded two penalties and had defender Djeljilj sent off in the first half and they never recovered after conceding a third goal early in the second half. This sixth defeat leaves them anchored at the bottom of the standings with only four points from eight matches.
With Luke Montebello and Adrian Borg injured, Pembroke coach Winston Muscat was forced to make changes after the 2-2 draw against Tarxien Rainbows. The tall Jhonatan Mariano started instead in attack while Matteus Regis replaced Borg. Clifford Gauci was also included in the starting line up instead of Maksymov.
And when playing with ten men for the entire second half, they had neither the craft nor the pace to threaten.
Although always bottom-of-the table stuff in terms of quality, the sides played an eventful first half. Within the first half hour St Andrews were awarded two penalties to take a 2-1 lead at halftime.
The first, after 17 minutes, came when Paz delivered a corner from the right and the referee from Northern Ireland noticed a handling by Siraj Arab. Joseph Farrugia stepped up to score from the spot kick.
Joseph Farrugia also converted the second penalty on the half hour, again for a Levnaic hands ball inside the area after Nwoko shot at goal off a Beltre cross.
In between, Pembroke also scored and could have levelled matters were it not for a wasted good opportunity. They cancelled out the Saints’ lead after two minutes. Barbetti played Jhonatan Mariano through inside the St Andrews area to lob the ball over the onrushing keeper Galea.
On 23 minutes, with the score at 11, Gauci missed a glaring opportunity. Put clear by Micallef inside the area he lobbed the ball over with only the keeper to beat.
There was to be further derision for Pembroke when their defender Asani Djeljilj was sent off for a second caution on the stroke of halftime.
At halftime, Pembroke’s coach Muscat was also banned from the bench for passing some remarks to the referee.
St Andrews immediatley took advantage of their numerical superiority and five minutes into the second half they increased their lead. A Farrugia free kick from the left was headed in by Ziga Kastrevec.
The Saints looked home and dry, even because Pembroke could not summon enough effort to trouble Jake Galea in the Saints’ goal except for a Johnson header, off a Farrugia free kick on 78 minutes, that Galea looked capabale of saving.
St Andrews put some excessive gloss on their win on 90 minutes. Beltre advanced unhindered down the left, played the ball square to the unmarked Jaqcob Walker for the substitute to tap the ball in with relative ease. Balzan Birkirkara Valletta Hibernians Sliema Hamrun Floriana Gzira Tarxien St. Andrews Mosta Pembroke P 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 W 6 5 4 4 4 3 3 2 2 3 2 1 D 1 1 2 2 0 2 2 3 3 0 1 1 LF A Pts 116 9 19 2 18 6 16 2 14 10 14 2 10 8 14 4 11 10 12 3 15 13 11 3 9 8 11 3 10 11 9 3 8 12 9 5 10 15 9 5 9 16 7 6 9 21 4
Action during the St Andrews-Pembroke match Photo: Jonathan Borg