Hamrun leave Gzira in dire straits
Hamrun Spartans won this battle of the two newly promoted sides by beating Gzira United with two second half goals to move in mid table.
The first half had been largely a featureless affair except for a couple of half chances for Hamrun. But the Spartans upped the tempo in the second and scored twice to secure the points against a Gzira side that looked scruffy and scrappy and with coach Darren Abdilla fighting a forlorn battle to bring some cohesion to their play.
This was Gzira’s sixth consecutive defeat as they remain with no win in eight league matches.
Both teams made changes to their line-ups from their previous defeats. Hamrun interim coach Jonathan Holland dropped Maldini, Mark Borg, Nanapere and Mifsud Triganza and gave starts to Luis Rodrigues, Jorge Neto, Massimiliano Giusti and Patrick Texeira.
Clifford Gatt Baldacchino and Karl pulo did not feature in Gzira’s starting line-up and Andre White and Correa Calixto played instead.
For the opening minutes the teams looked so evenly matched it was hard to credit there was a difference of five points between them. Hamrun had shots from a distance from Jake Grech, Motta and Giusti but did not trouble Mauro Boerchio in the Gzira goal.
Gradually Hamrun were beginning to take control of the proceedings. Towards the half hour Jake Grech arrived fractionally late to Giusti’s low cross and Texeira severely tested keeper Boerchio for the first time with a powerful grounder whicj the goalkeeper held out at full stretch.
On 35 minutes Hamrun’s keeper David Cassar got injured as he clashed with Gzira’s Machedo Neto. Both players had to receive treatment and play was interrupted for about four minutes.
It was in the half’s added time that Gzira went clsosest to opening the score. A Conti deep cross from the left was slightly tipped by the Hamrun keeper with Ledesma allowed a free header which ended narrowly off target.
Hamrun started the second half like a team on a mission and after a Momodou effort for Gzira was cleared by Rodrigues, the Spartans forged ahead on 58 minutes. Motta advanced from the left and delivered a cross that cut the entire Gzira defence and fell to Jorge Neto who headed in from close range.
Gzira’s reaction was flacid. Hamrun pressed forward for a second reassuring goal. Jake Grech fluffed a good chance on 65 minutes ho ran through the Gzira defence but could not make contact to substitute Nanapere’s scross.
Texeira was likewise wasteful on 72 minutes as he met Jake Grech’s low pass but shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Gzira almost drew level three minutes later but Mamodou headed Calixto’s cross fractionally wide.
The Spartans made the points safe though five minutes from the end. Texeira played a ball forward to put Jake Grech through and the Hamrun captain made no mistake with a cool finish.
Sergio Raphael Dos Anjos of Hamrun Spartans (right) gets away from the fold of Gzira United defenders Gianmarco Conti (5) and Antonio De Queroz (back partially hidden) Photo: Domenic Aquilina