10th pro­gramme over three days

●Sun­day’s Birkirkara-Hibs clash is a must win for both sides ●Lead­ers Balzan face Tarx­ien R as Val­letta take on St. An­drews ●Pem­broke face Ħam­run in cru­cial match for bot­tom club

Malta Independent - - SPORT - Henry Brin­cat

The 10th pro­gramme of the Premier League is be­ing held over three days – be­tween to­day and Sun­day - with matches also re­turn­ing to the Na­tional Sta­dium at Ta’ Qali after the re-seed­ing process for the sur­face. The pro­gramme starts to­day with the Flo­ri­ana-Gzira and St An­drews-Val­letta match at the Vic­tor Tedesco Sta­dium. To­mor­row, at the same venue, there will be the Ham­run-Pem­broke clash and the Tarx­ien R.Balzan en­counter. On Sun­day foot­ball re­turns at Ta’ Qali where in the first match, the re­vived Sliema face Mosta while the in-form Birkirkara meet third placed Hiber­ni­ans. It is an­other in­ter­est­ing pro­gramme, but the two most im­por­tant clashes are the games be­tween Birkirkara and Hiber­ni­ans and the Tarx­ien-Balzan clash. In fact, the Birkirkara-Hibs clash is a ‘must win’ af­fair for both sides, if they are to main­tain the pace with the lead­ers. This is be­cause Balzan will start as hot favourites to beat Tarx­ien and col­lect an­other three points. Balzan quickly for­got all about the dis­as­trous 0-3 de­feat at the hands of Birkirkara and went on to beat Ham­run Spar­tans on Satur­day to re­turn to win­ning form and re­main at the top. Oliver Spiteri’s side starts as favourite, but they can­not ig­nore Tarx­ien who made Val­letta strug­gle to ob­tain all the three points the past week­end. The in-form Birkirkara must also start as favourites against the in­con­sis­tent Hiber­ni­ans side. The Stripes scored no fewer than 10 goals in their last two out­ings and showed their best form so far this sea­son as they col­lected six points from 3-0 and 7-1 wins against Balzan and Gzira re­spec­tively. Be­sek’s side is cer­tainly the team of the mo­ment, but the Pao­lites could of­fer a lot more re­sis­tance on their day. Hiber­ni­ans have been strug­gling to find their true form and it had to be a soli­tary goal to en­able them to win all the three points against lowly St An­drews. Of course, they will have to be at their very best to out­smart the Stripes on Sun­day. One team which has moved up the stand­ings rapidly is Sliema Wan­der­ers. They did this by reg­is­ter­ing five suc­ces­sive wins which have cat­a­pulted them from 10th to 5th plac­ing. On Sun­day they seem to have an­other good chance of reg­is­ter­ing a 6th win as they face a strug­gling Mosta side for whom noth­ing seems to be go­ing right this sea­son. The Blues have col­lected just

To­day

Vic­tor Tedesco Sta­dium 6.00pm Flo­ri­ana - Gżira U. 8.15pm St An­drews - Val­letta

To­mor­row

Vic­tor Tedesco Sta­dium 3.00pm Ħam­run S.-Pem­broke Ath. 5.15pm Tarx­ien R.-Balzan.

Sun­day

Ta’ Qali Na­tional Sta­dium 3.00pm Sliema W. - Mosta 5.15pm Birkirkara - Hiber­ni­ans

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 4 813 9 6 10 16 9 4 11 18 9 6 917 7 7 922 4

seven points from a pos­si­ble 27 and are oc­cu­py­ing 11th place in the 12-team stand­ings. Flo­ri­ana, who re­turned to win­ning form at the week­end by beat­ing Mosta nar­rowly, now face a de­mor­alised Gzira side which is still shocked after suf­fer­ing a hu­mil­i­at­ing 7-1 de­feat to Birkirkara. The fi­nal match on the pro­gramme is that be­ing played to­mor­row be­tween Ham­run and Pem­broke. I con­sider it as a very cru­cial game for bot­tom club Pem­broke who must start win­ning points to gain con­fi­dence and also to get close to the teams above them. For the Spar­tans is a good oc­ca­sion to get back on the win­ning track fol­low­ing their 1-3 de­feat at the hands of Balzan.

Birkirkara’s Vito Plut and Hiber­ni­ans de­fener An­drei Agius are set to bat­tle against each other this Sun­day

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