This fourth round match of the FA Trophy was full of episodes. Apart from the two late goals by Alex da Paixao Alves, there were a good number of bookings, with one player from each being side sent off in between a penalty miss by Balzan.
During the game Balzan had the initiative for long stretches but struggled to turn their possession into real scoring opportunities. This can be attributed to Naxxar’s well organised defence which left very little space for the attackers to manoeuvre.
In the 20th minute, Balzan could have taken the lead when a fast exchange between Ivan Bozovic and Alex da Paixao Alves led to the latter’s cross shot from the right being tipped off by Angus Buhagiar’s stretched arm, before reaching unmarked Bojan Kaljevic. For this Balzan were awarded a penalty, which also led to Angus Buhagiar being sent off. From the penalty spot, Bojan Kaljevic’s feeble effort was saved by Christoph Nicht.
With a man down, Naxxar regrouped and defended well, with two banks of four, allowing their opponents little space. Christoph Nicht was never really overworked and it remained goalless at halftime.
Balzan increased their efforts in the second half. On resumption, following an Alfred Effiong pass, Paul Fenech tried his luck with a powerful drive from outside the area, but Christoph Nicht tipped it over the cross bar.
In the 56th minute, a Milos Lepovic powerful shot thumped against the Naxxar bar with goalkeeper Nicht finishing off into a corner.
In the 66th minute, numerical parity was restored on the pitch, as Alfred Effiong was also sent off after collecting two yellow cards within a minute.
Naxxar resisted Balzan’s superiority and defended well, operating with a handful of counter attacks, which resulted into a couple of dangerous set pieces.
However Balzan always looked more likely to score and in the 82nd minute, they were awarded for their efforts as they broke the stalemate. Paul Fenech sent a perfect pass which was connected in front of goal by ALEX da PAIXAO ALVES who, after dribbling past a defender, managed to put the ball beyond the goalkeeper.
Just before normal time, in an isolated counter attack, Naxxar had a Daren Falzon equaliser disallowed for offside.
Three minutes into the added time, Balzan sealed the issue when Alves set Paul Fenech in the area but Christoph Nicht came out to block his effort. The ball fell into ALEX da PAIXAO ALVES’s path, making no mistake to finish the ball into an empty net.