Balzan were the better team especially in the first half and grew in belief as the game progressed. But Floriana showed determination in the last quarter avoiding a defeat thanks to a late equaliser by Maurzio Vella.
For this game Balzan welcomed back injured Bruno Gilio de Oliveira starting in defence replacing injured Elkin Orlando Serrano Valero. On the other hand Floriana welcomed back Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg and Nicholas Chiesa.
In the early part of the game Floriana were looking unusually nervous as Balzan dominated for the first part of the half, the match was not lacking in intensity. Balzan did not struggle for chances in either half, but a combination of poor finishing and good defending, kept Floriana in the match.
In the 5th minute, Balzan won a free kick from the edge of the area when Steve Pisani blocked Ryan Fenech’s shot with his hand. The resulting free-kick taken by Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes (Kadu) finished centimetres off target.
In the 11th minute, following a high cross by Samir Arab, Floriana goalkeeper Ini Etim Akpan failed to hold the ball and when Kaljevic was about to capitalise Akpan blocked his effort into a corner. The referee turned a blind eye as Bojan Kaljevic fell inside the Floriana area when tackled from behind by Alex Cini.
Floriana’s first real threat came on the 25th minute when Mario Fontanella’s good work from the bye-line on the left ended with a cross for Ignazio Varela, whose goal bound effort was headed into a corner by Bruno Giglio de Oliveira.
In the 37th minute, Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes went on a good run before firing a shot from the edge of the penalty area, forcing a good save by the goalkeeper.
De Fiore Mendes threatened Floriana’s defence once more in the additional time prior to half time. The Brazilian player hit a central shot that was saved with difficulty by Akpan.
Balzan’s dominance continued into the second half and in the 55th minute they were rewarded for their effort, taking the lead they richly deserved. In a solo endeavour BOJAN KALJEVIC advanced inside the Floriana area from the right and managed to beat goalkeeper Akpan from a very tight angle.
Floriana reacted immediately and on the 59th minute Maurizio Vella saw his shot saved by the Balzan goalkeeper Ivan Janjusevic.
Balzan, looking confident enough went close on the 61st minute. A cross from the right by Uros Ljubomirac fell to Ryan Fenech whose powerful shot was deflected by a defender into a corner.
Floriana suddenly started to contend and on the 65th minute a free-kick by Enzo Ruiz from outside the area forced keeper Ivan Janjusevic to stretch himself and turn into a corner.
In the 72nd minute Floriana levelled matters. Following a corner from the left by Steve Pisani, Enzo Ruiz’s firm header was partially saved by Janjusevic but he was rendered helpless on the rebound by MAURIZIO VELLA.
Floriana responded straight away with another wave of attacking. On the 79th minute, following an erratic defensive clearance by Michael Johnson, Arthur Oyama’s shot was saved into a corner by the Balzan keeper.
In the final analysis of the game, a draw was a fair result although that leaves both sides at some distance from the top two teams.
FLORIANA: Ini Etim Akpan, Enrico Pepe, Enzo Ruiz, Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Ignacio Varela, Maurizio Vella, Alex Cini, Arthur Henrique Oyama, Nicolas Chiesa (Dylan Grima 52′), Mario Fontanella.
BALZAN : Ivan Janjusevic, Steve Bezzina, Michael Johnson, Alex da Paixao Alves (Justin Grioli 91′), Uros Ljubomirac, Ryan Fenech, Bojan Kaljevic (Alfred Effiong 69′), Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Paul Fenech, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes, Samir Arab (Milos Lepovic 89′)
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
BOV Player of the Match: Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes (Balzan)