Ham­run leave Gzira in dire straits

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

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

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