Birkirkara held to a draw by Flo­ri­ana

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

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

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