Second successive draw for Balzan and Sliema
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.
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