Kal­je­vic puts Balzan again at the top

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

With Hiber­ni­ans win­ning on Satur­day and go­ing top of the stand­ings, the spot­light and pres­sure turned on Balzan who could not af­ford to slip against Pem­broke Ath­leta to re­gain the pri­macy yes­ter­day.

Balzan quickly reaf­firmed the or­der of things. They be­gan to out­fight their op­po­nents all over the pitch and topped that off with some flashes of class from Souza nad Nafti and the lethal fin­ish­ing of Bo­jan Kal­je­vic in par­tic­u­lar, who notched a hat­trick yet­ser­day and took his tally to 13 goals this sea­son.

Pem­broke did spo­rad­i­cally threaten but no team can de­fend this gen­er­ously and ex­pect to get away with it.

Pem­broke coach Ar­tim Shakiri must have been flab­ber­gasted with the way that his frag­ile de­fence im­ploded yet again. They have kept only one clean sheet in 13 league games so far this sea­son.

And their preda­tory touch in front of goal has been so badly lack­ing up.

Both teams had key play­ers miss­ing with Pem­broke’s sus­pended duo of Zo­ran Lev­naic and Pal­temio Bar­betti. Pem­broke coach also dropped Manewski and Mar­i­ano and handed starts to Sun­day Eboh, Ugochukwo Akuto, Olek­sander Maksy­mov and Adrian Borg.

Balzan also had cen­tre back Bruno de Oliveira sus­pended. The re­turn­ing Al­fred Ef­fiong and Ly­don Mi­callef both started on the bench while Paul Fenech did not fea­ture in their squad.

An early goal put Balzan in the driv­ing seat when short of the quar­ter hour Bo­jan Kal­je­vic chested a high ball in­side the Pem­broke area on the left and beat keeper Calleja Cre­mona with a low strike at the far post.

Pem­broke could have gone in front them­selves six min­utes ear­lier but Maky­mov’s shot from the right re­bounded off the foot of the post.

Balzan in­creased their lead on 34 min­utes when Souza played a short pass from the right to Samir Arab who scored with a curl­ing shot from the edge of the area.

Soon af­ter Souza ran in well for a Bezzina cross from the left but the Pem­broke keeper was alert and saved into a cor­ner.

Still the more dom­i­nant force, Balzan made them three on the stroke of half­time. Bo­jan Kal­je­vic again made the bet­ter of Calleja Cre­mona’s er­ratic sor­tie and drove the ball low be­yond him.

The qual­ity then dipped in the sec­ond half.

Pem­broke had a goal dis­al­lowed Priso in the Mosta at­tack.

Keep­ing a sem­blance of self­con­trol was im­per­a­tive and they started by ex­ert­ing im­por­tant au­thor­ity in mid­field,wher Malano was highly in­volved, peg­ging Mosta back and keep­ing con­fi­dent pos­ses­sion.

On a Jhon­nat­tann cross, Malano headed slightly over.

Past the hour, Val­letta ef­fected a dou­ble sub­sti­tu­tion, with­draw­ing Camil­leri and Cre­mona and putting in Jean Borg and Romeu Ro­mao.

Oseghale limped off for Mosta and was re­placed by Martin Vl­cek.

On 66 min­utes a Caru­ana short back pass put some pres­sure on his goal­keeper who rushed off his line to smother the dan­ger be­fore Vl­cek could cap­i­talise.

Val­letta held to their ter­ri­to­rial dom­i­nance as the min­utes ticked away but could not cre­ate enough chances to breach Mosta’s solid de­fence.

Ali­hno and Grant went close with last ditch ef­forts for Val­letta and Mosta re­spec­tively but the match re­mained goal­less and the stale­mate pre­vailed at the end. soon af­ter the restart when Akuto, who had tapped the ball in to fin­ish off Si­raj Arab’s ef­fort, was ruled off­side.

Balzan ef­fected a dou­ble sub­sti­tu­tion on the hour, putting in Ly­don Mi­callef and Al­fred Ef­fiong for Pi­ci­ollo and Souza.

Pem­broke soon spurned a good chance when Borg failed to put the ball in from a promis­ing po­si­tion off Mi­callef’s cross.

On the other end, Mi­callef pre­sented Kal­je­vic with an open score but keeper Calleja Cre­mona some­how de­flected into a cor­ner.

Akuto missed the tar­get when put through by Arab and the same player was de­nied by keeper Jan­ju­se­vic some min­utes later.

There was still time for Balzan to score their fourth and for Kal­je­vic to com­plete his hat­trick. The Balzan striker won a penalty, which he him­self tucked in, af­ter be­ing felled by keeper Calleja Cre­mona two min­utes be­fore the end.

Stand­ings

Balzan Hiber­ni­ans Val­letta Birkirkara Flo­ri­ana Sliema Ham­run St. An­drews Tarx­ien Gzira Mosta Pem­broke 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 9 9 7 7 7 5 5 4 3 2 2 2 3 1 27 13 30 2 2 21 11 29 4 2 20 11 25 3 3 30 11 24 3 3 18 11 24 2 6 16 17 17 2 6 21 24 17 2 7 13 21 14 4 6 13 20 13 3 8 11 23 9 3 8 10 22 9 1 10 14 30 7

Star Man! Balzan striker Bo­jan Kal­je­vic cel­e­brates scor­ing his hat­trick in his side’s 4-0 thrash­ing of Pem­broke Ath­leta. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

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