Late goals seal is­sue in favour of Stripes

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Birkirkara yes­ter­day re­turned to win­ning form as they beat Tarx­ien Rain­bows 3-1 in a match which only came to life in the fi­nal 10 min­utes.

The Stripes had been with­out a win in the last three matches – a de­feat and just two draws.

But this vic­tory has en­abled them to join Val­letta and Flo­ri­ana on the 24-point mark with the Cit­i­zens hav­ing to­day’s match against Mosta in hand.

It was a hotly dis­puted penalty eight min­utes from the end which paved the way for the Stripes’ vic­tory.

From then on it was a dif­fer­ent match as Birkirkara added two more goals to their tally for a flat­ter­ing 3-1 score­line (Tarx­ien scored a con­so­la­tion goal just be­fore the fi­nal whis­tle).

Tarx­ien had no coach on the bench and were un­der the charge of as­sis­tant Brian Testa­fer­rata, who is their youth coach.

In the first half, medi­ocrity reigned supreme ex­cept for a few mo­ments, es­pe­cially from set pieces. In fact, it was only in added time that Birkirkara al­most opened the score through Plut who was un­lucky to hit the upright.

Oth­er­wise, al­though the Stripes seemed to be tech­ni­cally su­pe­rior to their op­po­nents, it was ob­vi­ous that they were find­ing dif­fi­culty in pen­e­trat­ing a well or­gan­ised Tarx­ien de­fence whose aim was to keep the Birkirkara strik­ers far away from goalie Cas­sar.

The Rain­bows also had their few mo­ments, but they were found want­ing up front so much so that they did not pro­duce one sin­gle de­cent shot at goal. In ac­tual fact, both sides were guilty of er­ratic pass­ing which seemed to be the or­der of the day.

The sec­ond half was per­haps a lit­tle live­lier, but Birkirkara at­tacked a lot more and cre­ated the best chances.

How­ever, they were made to fight harder than ex­pected by this Tarx­ien side which only went to pieces af­ter that penalty goal.

The Rain­bows fought ev­ery inch of the way and al­though mostly in de­fence, they closed all gaps un­til that penalty award which gave the op­por­tu­nity to the Stripes to move ahead.

The match had a rather quiet start, but in the 9th minute, B’kara threat­ened se­ri­ously, first when from a Dim­itrov cross, a Sci­cluna first timer was blocked to a cor­ner by Caru­ana. From the cor­ner, a melee en­sued in front of the Tarx­ien goal with Frank Temile miss­ing a good chance, hit­ting wide from three me­tres.

Tarx­ien replied four min­utes later when from a Da Paixao Alves cross, it was Ponce who had a good shot blocked by Sciber­ras to cor­ner.

At the other end, fol­low­ing a good move by Temile, it was Dim­itrov who had a low shot well saved by Cas­sar.

The match fell into medi­ocrity with a lot of mid­field play en­su­ing and with both sides rarely, if ever, test­ing the two goal­keep­ers.

But in the 38th minute, Dim­itrov ad­vanced on the left flank only for his dan­ger­ous cross be­ing han­dled per­fectly by the alert An­drea Cas­sar.

Mo­ments later, at the other end, Frances had a dis­tant shot eas­ily saved by Birkirkara goalie Ko­pric.

In the 45th minute, Birkirkara were un­lucky not to score when in a quick break­away, Dim­itrov set Plut in the area and the lat­ter’s first timer hit the base of the upright with goalie Cas­sar com­pletely beaten.

As the sec­ond half started, in the 50th minute, Birkirkara went close through a Dim­itrov free­kick which just missed the tar­get.

Birkirkara main­tained the ini­tia­tive and af­ter a Ba­jada free­kick was punched out by goalie Cas­sar, it was Gareth Sciber­ras who fired a shot from the edge of the area which, how­ever, went wide.

The very ac­tive Dim­itrov again tried his luck for the Stripes with a shot from the edge of the area, but his shot went wide.

In the 73rd minute, it was de­fender Bubalovic who had a good ef­fort go­ing just wide.

In the 82nd minute, Birkirkara were awarded a penalty when ‘golden’ sub­sti­tute De­sira But­tigieg was deemed to have been floored by Tabone in the Tarx­ien area. Vito Plut brought a big sigh of re­lief for Birkirkara as he con­verted the penalty in style.

In the 87th minute, it was 2-0 as a Dim­itrov free­kick hit the Tarx­ien bar­rier with the ball be­ing de­vi­ated to the other side of goalie Cas­sar.

As if it was not enough, the Stripes added a third in the 90th minute when Plut re­ceived a good ball from Temile, ad­vanced into the area and his shot was un­luck­ily de­vi­ated by Matthew Tabone into his own net.

It was not yet over as Tarx­ien still had the en­ergy to at least score a con­so­la­tion goal just be­fore the fi­nal whis­tle – a beauty of a goal from Tris­ton Caru­ana.

Tarx­ien cap­tain Tris­ton Caru­ana in ac­tion against Birkirkara yes­ter­day. Pho­tos Martin Agius

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.