Floriana move into second place with convincing win
Three late goals, added to their opener in the first half, helped Floriana to run riot against a feeble St Andrews and put the Greens in second place, above Valletta and Hibernians, who have a game in hand.
Floriana had Enrico Chiesa back in midfield, with Cabral making way, and his presence was influential.
It was no exhilarating game, that ended ten-a-side, with Floriana first to see their numbers reduced past the half hour and things levelled up on 76 minutes when Azian was dismissed for the Saints.
St Andrews never really threatened to recover from that bruising and even when playing with an extra man for almost 40 minutes, it was their inability in attack and their vulnerability in defence that threatened to be their downfall.
St Andrews were under the guidance of new coach Marko Glumac who made three changes from the side that lost to Hamrun Spartans the previous week, including central defender Travis Blagrove, wide back Jakob Walker and forward Tano Azian in his starting eleven.
The first half was characterised by too many reckless tackles, with five players being booked and Floriana’s midfielder Steve Pisani sent off, past the half hour, for a very late block on Azian.
Luckily for them, Floriana had taken a 25th-minute lead through Mario Fontanella who headed in after his first effort was blocked on the line and a Vella shot repelled by the St Andrews keeper Calleja Cremona.
Floriana took some time to settle. Their central heartland had been encountering problems for the first part of the opening half with the supposed dominant Chiesa, Vella and Pisani being stretched and overrun by Farrugia, Grima and Butler in that area. The Greens lacked enough creativity and that encouraged St Andrews to spring into counterattacks. Before breaking the deadlock, they had to survive a scare as Farrugia played a through pass for Jackson who narrowly missed the target.
Things seemed to get awkward for Floriana after going down to ten men, although they still created one good scoring opportunity four minutes before the break. From a long corner, Oyama laid the ball to Varela whose powerful drive was saved into another corner by the Saints’ keeper, with the help of the post.
St Andrews showed more belief after the interval and tried to push more forward through their flank players Jackson and Walker. In truth, none were permitted to prosper as Floriana snapped at them, forever disrupting their rhythm on the approach.
The Saints were found wanting on the scoring front, having only a Farrugia long range drive saved by keeper Akpan and a Borg inswinging cross from the left turned over the bar by the Floriana custodian.
Floriana, replacing Borg with Dylan Grima in midfield remained the more potent going forward.
And when numerical parity was restored, as the Saints’ forward Asian was also sent off for a second booking on 76 minutes, their troubles worsened as Floriana ran riot in the final eight minutes.
Marizio Varela hit in after the Saints’ defence cleared a Chiesa free kick in his way. Enzo Ruiz crowned a good performance when he beat keeper Calleja Cremona with a low diagonal headcer on th stroke of time. In added time, substitute Leighton Grech was felloed by the Florians keeper to win a penalty which Varela tucked away to sink the Saints.
Floriana goalscorer Mario Fontanella (89) is submerged by his fellow team mates after scoring against St. Andrews. Photo: Domenic Aquilina