Balzan managed to hold to their three-point advantage at the top of the table, as they shared the spoils in goalless draw with second placed Valletta.

 

Both teams made some changes from their last game. Valletta made three changes. Steve Borg was missing due to suspension, Claudio Pani was left out of the squad and Kyrian Nwoko was relegated to the bench. Meanwhile Juan Gill Cruz, Rowen Muscat and Albert Prosa replaced them in the starting line-up instead. Balzan replaced Bruno Gilio De Oliveira with Elkin Serrano Valero while Alex Da Paixao Alves returned from suspension and Alfred Effiong was named as a substitute.

The match produced some good flowing football from both teams but both sides were very cautious not to concede a goal. As expected, Valletta came out determined to win the three points in order to join Balzan on top but Balzan defended well their 3 point lead at top the table.

The only episodes worth noting in the first half came from Valletta. In the 24th minute, they went close to opening the score when Santiago Malano’s powerful shot from outside the area came off the bar.

On the half hour, Mateo Piciollo headed wide when he was served by Enmy Pena Beltre.

On the 38th minute, Miguel Angel Alba of Valletta tried his luck from a free-kick, but his shot failed to find the target.

In the second half, Balzan increased their efforts but still failed to create any real danger to goalkeeper Henry Bonello.

Balzan’s first attempt at goal came on the 58th minute when, off a corner taken by Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes, Elkin Serrano Valero’s header finish just over the cross-bar.

On the 61st minute, Matteo Piciollo robbed the ball off Ivan Bozovic, from near the bye-line and crossed towards Miguel Angel Alba whose shot was deflected.

On the 78th minute, substitute Kyrian Nwoko dribbled past a couple of Balzan defenders but was finally fouled by Milos Lepovic. The resultant direct free-kick by Santiago Malano finished over the crossbar.

On the other side in the 84th minute, following a corner kick by alex Da Paixao Alves, Elkin Serrano Valero headed the ball marginally over.

A minute later Bojan Kaljevic almost profited from an ill-timed approach by goalkeeper Henry Bonello but his header finish just wide.

In the dying minutes of the game, substitute Alfred Effiong served Uros Ljubomirac but Joseph Zerafa was there in time to block his shot.

In stoppage time, substitute Michael Mifsud had the good chance to open the score as he took advantage on an indecision by Steve Bezzina but his shot from an angled position finished hitting the side netting.

Balzan finished the game playing with nine men, as during the 5 added minutes, in separate incidents, Milos Lepovic and Uros Ljubomirac were double yellow carded and sent off.

VALLETTA : Henry Bonello, Ryan Camilleri, Juan Cruz Gill, Santiago Malano, Matteo Piciollo (Kyrian Nwoko 65′), Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre, Joseph Zerafa, Raed Ibrahim Saleh, Rowen Muscat, Miguel Angel Alba (Michael Mifsud 81′), Albert Prosa.

BALZAN : Sean Mintoff, Steve Bezzina, Michael Johnson, Elkin Serrano Valero, Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic (Justin Grioli 78′), Bojan Kaljevic, Paul Fenech, Milos Lepovic, Alex da Paixao Alves (Ryan Fenech 89′), Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes (Alfred Effiong 67′).

Referee: Alan Mario Sant

 

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