Sec­ond suc­ces­sive draw for Balzan and Sliema

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

League lead­ers Balzan and Sliema yes­ter­day shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

It was a fair re­sult in an evenly bal­anced game in which Balzan showed the best ideas in the first half while Sliema came back strongly in the sec­ond dur­ing which they equalised.

In the process, both teams missed out on two pre­cious points – it was the two teams’ sec­ond suc­ces­sive draw.

In the first half, the match never reached great heights and nei­ther side seemed to have a clear edge.

How­ever, it was Balzan who created the best op­por­tu­ni­ties. And at the in­ter­val, they seemed to have mer­ited their slen­der lead cour­tesy of a great goal by Kal­je­vic.

Sliema strug­gled to find a way past a well or­gan­ised Balzan de­fence and this, de­spite the prompt­ings of Dos San­tos and Muchardi who never stopped run­ning.

On the other hand, Paul Fenech and Ab­delka­rim Nafti also worked hard in mid­field, but both Pi­ci­ollo and Kal­je­vic were un­der con­trol for most of the time, at least un­til the lat­ter found the net just be­fore the in­ter­val whis­tle.

Balzan elected to de­fend their slen­der lead, but after the goal, they again moved for­ward with pur­pose although till the end, only a few chances were created by both sets of strik­ers.

Soon after, at the other end, goalie Zam­mit had to rush out of his charge to clear ahead of the ad­vanc­ing Kal­je­vic.

In the 43rd minute, from a Mintoff cross, Muchardi’s first timer was blocked by a Balzan de­fender to corner.

Balzan broke the dead­lock in the 45th minute. It was Paul Fenech who broke loose in three quar­ters pitch.

The ball fi­nally went to Bo­jan Kal­je­vic who hit home a fine first timer which went in via the cross­bar.

In the 52nd minute, Sliema went close to an equaliser when a Xuereb shot saw goalie Jan­ju­se­vic punch­ing the ball with great dif­fi­culty. And five min­utes later, from a Dos San­tos cor­ner­kick, it was Xuereb again who went close with a header that just missed the tar­get.

On the hour, it was Dos San­tos who tried his luck with a free­kick from the edge of the area, but the ball sailed harm­lessly wide.

Two min­utes later, Sliema equalised. A Xuereb low shot was turned to corner by Jan­ju­se­vic and from the same corner, it was Muchardi who headed in.

Sliema in­sisted on at­tack and Jean Paul Far­ru­gia saw his grounder be­ing turned to corner, but it was Balzan who al­most took the lead again in the 80th minute when from a Fenech cross, it was Nafti who an­tic­i­pated Zam­mit only to see his header hit­ting the post with the ball even­tu­ally be­ing cleared.

In this in­ci­dent, Nafti seemed to have been in­jured se­ri­ously so much so that an am­bu­lance also en­tered the pitch near the goal­post which took him to hospi­tal.

Till the end, both sets of de­fences never yielded an inch as the two teams ap­peared con­tent with the re­sult.

Stand­ings

Balzan Birkirkara Hiber­ni­ans Val­letta Flo­ri­ana Sliema Ham­run Tarx­ien St. An­drews Gzira Mosta Pem­broke 11 11 10 10 11 11 10 10 10 10 10 10 7 6 6 5 5 5 4 2 3 2 2 1 3 2 2 3 3 2 2 4 1 3 2 1 1 22 13 24 3 26 9 20 2 12 8 20 2 15 10 18 3 12 9 18 4 14 12 17 4 18 17 14 4 10 15 10 6 10 16 10 5 11 19 9 6 10 18 8 8 10 24 4

Photo: Michael Camil­leri

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