Sliema pil­fer the points at the end

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

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.

Stand­ings

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

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