Friday 26th August 2016 – Two headed goals by Bojan Kaljevic gave Balzan a narrow 2-1 win against a stubborn Pembroke side yesterday evening.
Although the victory was richly deserved, it was ironical that the winning goal arrived soon after Pembroke had gone very close to taking the lead themselves in a very rare counter attack.
Pembroke had to do without Siraj Arab and Luke Montebello, both ruled out through suspension following the opening matches last week. Former Floriana goalie Matthew Calleja Cremona was taking the place of veteran Mario Muscat between the posts.
On the other hand, Balzan had every player at their disposal and afforded to leave such players as Ryan Fenech, Abdelkarim Nafti and Matteo Piciollo on the substitutes bench at the start.
In the first half, Balzan were the better team and Pembroke were forced on the defensive for long stretches.
Balzan dominated the midfield sector as the hard working Paul Fenech and Anderson de Barros never stopped running apart from their good distribution of the ball.
However, after taking an early lead, they failed to capitalise on a couple of occasions that came their way.
For this they paid dearly as in their only attempt at goal, Pembroke equalised¸ albeit through an overhead kick which was deviated the wrong side of goalie Cassar.
In the second half, it was all Balzan as they launched one attack after another, but Pembroke held on gallantly until they finally succumbed to a second Bojan Kaljevic header four minutes from the end.
It was Balzan who took an early lead when on the 6th minute, off a Justin Grioli free-kick, BOJAN KALJEVIC headed home past the helpless Calleja Cremona.
Four minutes later, a Paul Fenech shot went just wide.
Pembroke equalised in the 28th minute albeit against the run of play. Regis da Silva’s overhead kick from outside the area appeared to have hit Elkin Serrano Valero, sending goalie Christian Cassar the wrong way and the ball finishing at the back of the net.
In the 34th minute, Calleja Cremona fumbled a ball which went to Effiong, but the latter’s shot was missed by Bojan Kaljevic in front of an empty goal.
Before the interval, Balzan went close twice, first through a Bojan Kaljevic effort which went over and then through a Justin Grioli free-kick which was saved in two attempts by Calleja Cremona.
Balzan were again in command in the early second half stages and a Justin Grioli free-kick went over the bar.
Balzan again went very close to scoring in the 62nd minute when Lydon Micallef set substitute Matteo Piciollo in the Pembroke area, but the latter’s fine effort just missed the target.
Two minutes later, as Balzan insisted on attack, Piciollo had another effort blocked by the diving Zoran Levnaic.
In the 76th minute, Bojan Kaljevic had a shot controlled easily by goalie Calleja Cremona.
Four minutes later, Pembroke were somewhat unlucky not to take the lead when in their only real attack in the second half, a Jhonatan Bernardo Mariano cross went to Mateus Regis da Silva whose effort was blocked by Christian Cassar. From the rebound, David Fenech’s goalbound shot was miraculously blocked by his teammate Zoran Levnaic.
Balzan deservedly took the lead once again in the 86th minute. It was BOJAN KALJEVIC who became Balzan’s hero when he rose above friend and foe to head the ball into the net, following a Paul Fenech corner-kick.
In added time, Pembroke had another good chance to equalise when from a Clifford Gauci cross, David Fenech hit just wide.
At the end, they had to bow out to a superior outfit.
BALZAN : Christian Cassar, Bojan Kaljevic, Clive Brincat, Steve Bezzina, Anderson Francisco de Barros (79′ Ryan Fenech), Paul Fenech, Alfred Effiong (46′ Matteo Piciollo), Justin Grioli, Lydon Micallef, Elkin Orlando Serrano Valero, Terence Agius (62′ Abdelkarim Nafti).
PEMBROKE : Matthew Calleja Cremona, Brandon Muscat, Oleksandr Maksyov (63′ David Fenech), Manolito Micallef, Zoran Levnaic, Paltemio Barbetti, Mateus Regis da Silva (82′ Andrea Scozzese), Jhonatan Bernardo Mariano, Miguel Attard, Adrian Borg, Clifford Gauci.
Referee: Clayton Pisani