Saturday 4th February 2017: Balzan returned to winning ways after a hard fought victory over Hamrun Spartans. This win enabled Balzan to retain the top spot in the BOV Premier League table.

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For this game Balzan preferred Alfred Effiong to Matteo Piciollo. On the other hand, Hamrun had three changes, from their last outing, in their starting line-up as Patrick Texeira, Brandon Paiber and the suspended Jorge Neto were replaced with Karl Micallef, Luis Miguel Vergara Rodriguez and new signing Mathieu Mansel.

To arrive to this win Balzan had to strive hard as at the beginning of the match they lost Abdelkarim Nafti to injury and on the hour mark they were reduced to ten men. Their fighting spirit and tenacity helped them to control their opponents, as Alan Souza da Silva Souza’s superb goal prevailed. Although Hamrun tried to raise the tempo in the second half, they rarely troubled goalkeeper Ivan Janjusevic even though enjoying numerical superiority for a whole half hour.

The first opportunity on goal came to Ħamrun in the 15th minute when Manolito Micallef served Jake Grech whose attempt finished off target.

Two minutes later, Balzan suffered a setback when they were forced to substitute experienced Abdelkarim Nafti with Lydon Micallef, after suffering an injury.

Despite this, in the 23rd minute, Balzan took the lead with a superb goal by ALAN DA SILVA SOUZA. After he was served from the left by Alfred Effiong, his first time shot from an acute angle hit the underside of the cross bar before finishing at the back of the net, past goalkeeper David Cassar.

Balzan insisted and on the half hour mark, they went close to doubling their lead, but Bojan Kaljevic’s direct free-kick finished slightly over the bar.

A minute late later, Alan Da Silva Souza’s shot from distance finished wide.

After the break, Hamrun replaced defender Jake Grech with attacker Saturday Nanapre and sacrificed Manolito Micallef to defence. This proved their coach right as, after only one minute on the pitch, Saturday Nanapre was in action when he volleyed acrobatically the ball high over the crossbar.

Two minutes later Balzan lost a good chance but Alfred Effiong shot directly into the hands of goalkeeper Cassar after being served by Bojan Kaljevic.

In the 52nd minute, a Jake Grech’s direct free-kick finished out, after hitting the foot of the post.

On the hour, Balzan suffered a severe setback when Dylan Grima was shown the red card for a second bookable offence, after committing a foul on Saturday Nanapere. For this Balzan was forced to make a substitution putting in defender Clive Brincat for hardworking midfielder Alan Da Silva Souza.

Hamrun’s spirits rose high and upped their efforts as they sought to make their numerical advantage count.

Hamrun kept pressing for the equalising goal and in the 69th minute they had another good opportunity. Saturday Nanapere sent a cross inside the penalty area from the left that was met by Karl Micallef whose effort was well saved by Ivan Janjusevic

Hamrun although increasing their momentum never showed enough threat to goalkeeper Ivan Janjusevic with their crosses serving little purpose.

In the dying minutes of the game, Balzan made the last effort to save the result as they opted to retreat further. They replaced their attacker Bojan Kaljevic with newly signed midfielder Milos Lepovic.

In the 90th minute, Balzan could have sealed the issue with another goal when Paul Fenech served Milos Lepovic in the penalty area and the latter’s effort went just off target.

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