Birkirkara flat­tered by late lev­eller

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

St An­drews were un­able to hold to their first half lead against a rud­der­less Birkirkara side and the match ended in frus­tra­tion for them on a wet af­ter­noon at Ta’Qali yes­ter­day.

Birkirkara were head­ing to­wards an em­bar­rass­ing de­feat but man­aged to draw level deep into five min­utes of added time, through sub­sti­tute De­sira But­tigieg, to sal­vage an un­de­served point.

The lack of com­mit­ment was ar­guably more wor­ry­ing than their short­age of ideas. There was not a great deal of cre­ativ­ity from Birkirkara in and around the opposition penalty area.

It was per­plex­ing to see a team look so meek against a side four places and seven points be­hind them.

The Stripes have now gone three league matches with­out a win.

St An­drews tried to con­trol the tempo in a first half where they played pre­dom­i­nantly on the coun­ter­at­tack.

It was per­haps to be ex­pected search of a lead. Jhon­nat­tann’s ef­fort nar­rowly missed the tar­get af­ter be­ing teed up by Mif­sud. Then Alinho had a shot from out­side the area skim­ming the bar.

On the other end Sliema threat­ened when Muc­cardi swept the ball wide off a cor­ner from the left.

Val­letta did break the dead­lock to­wards the hour though. On Aguirre’s cross from the that they lacked enough co­he­sion, although they did try to go out of their de­fen­sive shell, Birkirkara per­mit­ting.

But the Saints, un­der new coach Danilo Donic, have made re­mark­able im­prove­ment since their 4-0 de­feat by Birkirkara on the first day of the sea­son un­der for­mer coach Jose Borg. Two wins and a draw from their last four league matches sug­gest that St An­drews can­not be taken lightly th­ese days. left, Fed­erico Fal­cone rose to head past the help­less keeper Zam­mit.

Sliema looked shell­shocked. Val­letta were once again find­ing gaps to ex­ploit in the Wan­der­ers’ rear­guard and dou­bled their lead on 70 min­utes. Lly­we­lyn Cre­mona ad­vanced on the right, cre­ated space for him­self and beat keeper Zam­mit.

Val­letta were al­most sleep­walk­ing

Birkirkara were made aware of this af­ter 35 min­utes of com­plete dom­i­nance, but lack of pen­e­tra­tion.

They sur­pris­ingly fell be­hind when St An­drews’ wide back Enmy Bel­tre found space in­side the Birkirkara de­fence and see­ing keeper Ko­pric out of his line, he net­ted with a del­i­cate chip.

That trig­gered a reaction from Birkirkara, who un­til then ap­peared more com­fort­able on the to­wards a com­fort­able win when Sliema pulled one back through their ca­p­atin Mark Scerri as he fin­ished off from close range on 83 min­utes.

The fi­nal seven min­utes turned out to be quite hec­tic with Val­letta des­per­ately try­ing to hold to their lead and Sliema strug­gling to up the tempo but the score­line did not change till the end. ball in mid­field, with Mislav An­delkovic back in the side af­ter in­jury.

But un­til half­time they only se­verely tested the Saints’ keeper Jake Galea once, when he turned a fierce drive by Ba­jada into a cor­ner.

The pat­tern of the match did not change much in the sec­ond pe­riod. Birkirkara kept strug­gling to go past the Saints’ com­pact de­fence and were al­most caught cold on 50 min­utes when Bel­tre hit first time on an Udoh cross from the left but keeper Ko­pric could save.

The in­tro­duc­tion of Ryan Sci­cluna for Ba­jada was meant to give the Stripes some needed im­pe­tus in at­tack, where Temile and Plut looked only pe­riph­eral fig­ures yes­ter­day.

But there was never any prospect of a Birkirkara come­back as Birkirkara were still too slow and too laboured in their pass­ing for it to make a dif­fer­ence.

St An­drews threat­ened again eight min­utes from nor­mal time as an Nwoko shot from a dis­tance was turned into a cor­ner by Ko­pric.

Birkirkara were star­ing de­feat in the face when, deep into added time, three play­ers found them­selves in front of the St An­drews goal. The flag did not go up and sub­sti­tute Ma­teo De­sira But­tigieg man­aged to hit the ball low past keeper Galea to draw level.

It was a de­flat­ing mo­ment for plucky St An­drews.

Val­letta’s Jonathan Caru­ana (in white) reaches first ahead of Jean Paul Far­ru­gia of Sliema Wan­der­ers

Ryan Dar­manin of St. An­drews (left) is chal­lenged by Gareth Sciber­ras of Birkirkara (right) Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.