Saturday 10th September 2016 – An 88th minute penalty goal from substitute Lydon Micallef enabled Balzan to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season as they beat Floriana 1-0.
Balzan had goalie Ivan Janjusevic back in goal, while Abdelkarim Nafti and Matteo Piciollo were making their first start for Balzan.
Play in the first half was enjoyable and balanced with both sets creating some good chances which, however, went begging.
It was a hard-working performance from the midfielders, especially Elkin Serrano Valero and Paul Fenech of Balzan and Nicholas Chiesa, Mario Fontanella and Antonio Monticelli for Floriana.
In the second half, play degenerated as the ball was restricted mainly to midfield with both sets of defences being on top of their forwards. Gilio de Oliveira, for Balzan, and Pepe and Ruiz, for Floriana, were absolutely dominant in the heart of their respective defences. Pepe, however, marred his performance late in the match when he conceded the penalty which gave Balzan their win.
Goal-scoring chances were few and far between so much so that both goalies were hardly ever tested.
Balzan eventually took all the three points after the Greens conceded a late penalty which was converted in style by substitute Lydon Micallef.
Balzan threatened first on the 5th minute. From a Nafti cornerkick, it was Gilio de Oliveira who headed wide.
Moments later, at the other end, from a Ryan Camenzuli freekick, it was Chiesa who tested Janjusevic seriously but the Balzan goalie turned to corner in style.
In the 10th minute, Balzan missed a gilt edged chance of forging ahead. It was Nafti who set the unmarked Piciollo in the Greens’ area, but the former Floriana striker shot weakly into Haber’s hands.
Floriana also missed a good chance to open the scoring on the 27th minute. It was Fontanella who set Varela who beat the Balzan defence, but saw his chance vanish into thin air as despite rounding goalie Janjusevic, Gilio de Oliveira managed to clear to corner in time before the Greens striker could plant the ball into the empty net.
In the 34th minute, Haber had to rush out of his charge and dive at Effiong’s feet to avoid an awkward situation for the Greens.
Ten minutes into the second half, Nafti set Kaljevic in the Greens area, but his shot from an angle was easily saved by Haber.
Play was restricted mainly to midfield for long stretches and we had to wait till the 80th minute for another decent action. This time it was substitute Samb who passed to Fontanella in the Balzan area, but the Italian hit well over the bar from an ideal position.
With the match seemingly heading towards a goalless draw, Balzan scored the winner in the 88th minute. Alfred Effiong was floored by Pepe in the area and referee Glen Tonna showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot from where substitute Lydon Micallef made no mistake.
FLORIANA Justin Haber, Andre Scicluna (41′ Alex Cini), Antonio Monticelli, Enrico Pepe, Enzo Ruiz, Clyde Borg (59′ Steve Pisani), Ignacio Lucas Varela (58′ Amadou Samb), Jurgen Pisani, Nicolas Chiesa, Mario Fontanella, Ryan Camenzuli.
BALZAN Ivan Janjusevic, Bojan Kaljevic (74′ Lydon Micallef), Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Steve Bezzina, Anderson Francisco de Barros (46′ Dylan Grima), Paul Fenech, Alfred Effiong, Justin Grioli, Abdelkarim Nafti, Elkin Orlando Serrano Valero, Matteo Piciollo.
Referee: Glenn Tonna