Flo­ri­ana move into sec­ond place with con­vinc­ing win

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

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

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