Birkirkara held to a draw by Floriana
Birkirkara had to content themselves with just a point from their encounter against Floriana yesterday.
After dominating the first half, the Stripes handed the initiative to the Greens in the second and they only came to life again in the final 10 minutes when their forcing did not produce the goal they searched for the three points.
The draw means that Birkirkara now occupy second place with Hibernians who, however, have today’s match against rivals Tarxien in hand. They both have 20 points, four adrift of leaders Balzan.
Floriana have now joined Valletta in 4th place on 18 points, but the citizens also have today’s match against Hamrun in hand.
For the Greens, coach Giovanni Tedesco was making a welcome return after serving his four-match suspension.
Birkirkara were superior to the Greens in the first half with Rowen Muscat and Gareth Sciberras, not to mention Ryan Scicluna, controlling midfield.
The Stripes also created the best chances apart from scoring the only goal.
Floriana did not stare at their opponents either, but they found it extremely difficult to get past the solid Stripes defence. And when they did, they were off target .
It was former Birkirkara player Camenzuli who was the only one going close with two long distance shots, the first of which saved by the Birkirkara goalie.
Moreover, the Greens appeared frustrated by the ball possession tactics adopted by the Stripes.
In the second half, the story was completely different. The much more determined Greens took over the midfield sector and penned the Stripes in their half for long stretches as the latter struggled hard to keep the hungry Greens at bay.
Their equaliser was richly deserved and it seemed as if they would take over the reins, but the Stripes once again took over in search of a winning goal. But it was all in vain.
In the 10th minute, from a Steve Pisani freekick, Fontanella hit well over the bar from a central position.
Birkirkara opened the scoring on 17 minutes when from a Dimitrov corner, Plut hit hard with the ball hitting goalie Haber only for the ball to go over the line and into the net.
Soon after, at the other end, goalie Kopric had to dive sideways to turn to corner in style a Camenzuli 20 metre shot.
In the 29th minute, following a Steve Pisani cornerkick, the ball was cleared out to Camenzuli whose scorcher from 25 metres just missed the target.
In the 36th minute, Birkirkara missed a gilt edged chance of increasing their lead.
Vito Plut set Frank Temile in the Greens area and the latter, completely unmarked, saw his shot being blocked by an excellent Haber.
In the 42nd minute, from a Temile cross, it was Dimitrov who went close for Birkirkara, hitting just over from close in.
Early in the second half, Fontanella had a shot punched away by Kopric. The Stripes goalie then turned to corner another Camenzuli humdinger.
Floriana maintained the initiative and on the 57th minute, from a Fontanella cross, Varela saw his shot blocked miraculously by Kopric. The rebound, by Jurgen Pisani, hit the upright.
A goal was in the air and in their next attack, the Greens equalised. From a Jurgen Pisani perfect cross, it was Nicolas Chiesa who headed beautifully into the net, giving Kopric no chance.
In a rare Birkirkara attack, from a Cain Attard cross, a Vukanac header was excellently saved by the diving Haber.
In the 87th minute, Cain Attard had a header going inches wide of the upright.
Till the end, Birkirkara searched in vain for the winning goal and had to settle for just one point.
Photo: Michael Camilleri