Sliema pilfer the points at the end
Sliema Wanderers dealt neighbours Pembroke Athleta a cruel blow at the Victor Tedesco Stadium yesterday. Substitute Armando Tarlaziz gave the Wanderers victory with a late winner in a poor game which neither side deserved to win.
The match was heading towards a drab draw but Sliema stole the points with only one minute of normal time remaining.
They dominated possession but they struggled to outmanoeuvre a well-drilled Pembroke side that played with appetite although found wanting in their cutting edge.
Mattias Muchardi was central to what Sliema did muster, although that was little and far between.
Pembroke’s problems had been well-documented – the dismal run of results, the lack of creativity and goals – but they looked more than capable of avoiding defeat yesterday.
Their new coach, the Macedonian Altim Shakiri, who replaced Winston Muscat, was forced to make one substitution from the side that lost to St Andrews as defender Djeljilj was suspended and replaced by Borche Manevski. Manolito Micallef was deployed as left back with Manevski playing in an influential advanced midfield role.
Sliema were without the suspended John Mintoff, replaced by the returning Marko Potezica, as Ryan Spiteri got the nod ahead of Denni Dos Santos.
The Wanderers had entered the game as the team in better form, having won three matches on the trot, while Pembroke had never had so few Premier League points after the first eight matches of a season
But Sliema could not find their fluency – they were slow and flat, and it was surprising to see how few clearcut chances they created. The closest they went was shortly before halftime when Jean Paul Farrugia picked Wisdom’s pass, advanced on the right and unleashed a hard shot that Pembroek keeper Calleja Cremona did well to stretch himself and hold out.
They even lost Mark Scerri, injured, past the half hour, to be substituted by Gabriel Aquilina.
Not that Pembroke were much better though. After seven minutes Siraj Arab almost capitalised on some hesitation in the Sliema defence but his lob missed the target.
On 20 minutes Mariano mishit Arab’s cross and Gauci skied the loose ball from the edge of the area.
Neither side showed much urgency in the second period, although Sliema held more to possession. Spiteri found space to shoot. The ball travelled not far from target.
The teams were also erratic in their execution of set pieces. Regis central free kick short of the hour presented no trouble for Sliema keeper Zammit. Muchardi’s free kick on 68 minutes also went narrowly over.
As the minutes ticked off and the match looked petering out to a fair draw, Sliema scored on 89th minutes.
Pembroke keeper Calleja Cremona failed to intercept Vilas Boas’ cross and Armando Tarlaziz scored with a grounder to break Pembroke’s hearts.
Balzan Birkirkara Valletta Hibernians Sliema Floriana Hamrun Tarxien St. Andrews Gzira Mosta Pembroke 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 7 6 5 5 5 4 3 2 3 2 2 1 1 1 2 2 0 2 2 3 0 3 1 1 1 19 10 22 2 25 7 19 2 15 10 17 2 11 8 17 4 12 10 15 3 10 8 14 4 16 16 11 4 8 13 9 6 10 16 9 4 11 18 9 6 9 17 7 7 9 22 4
Photo: James Bianchi