Hibernians should consider themselves lucky as they managed to beat Balzan with a late Ferdinando Apap strike in a keenly contested and balanced match.

Both sides were seeking maximum points from this clash for different reasons. While Balzan needed these three points to maintain hopes of securing a finish with the top six alive, Hibernians were eager to bounce back to the top of the classification.

Although Hibernians had an edge over their opponents Balzan controlled their opponents well and could consider themselves unlucky having to leave the ground empty-handed. This loss means that Balzan will be playing among the bottom six as they remain third from the bottom.

Balzan made one change from the team which defeated Sirens as Nikola Gulan replaced injured Alvin Kevin Daniels. On the other hand, Hibernians welcomed back Andrei Agius and Leandro Almedia after both serving a one-match ban while Jake Grech and Joseph Zerafa were back in the starting line-up.

Following a quiet start for the two teams, in the 13th minute, Uros Ljubomirac tested goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone with a shot from the right.

2 minutes later, Hibernians replied with a fine move by Jake Grech but his effort ended wide.

In the 23rd minute, Jurgen Degabriele had a shot from outside the area saved partially by Vukasin Vranes.

In the 29th minute, goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone made a very good save over an effort from outside the area by Milan Djuric.

4 minutes later, Balzan threatened again with a header by Paul Fenech which was parried by the goalkeeper.

One minute from the end of the first half, Jurgen Degabriele headed the ball in the direction of Jake Grech whose angled shot finished just wide.

During the second half, Balzan continued to keep their opponents under control although just over the hour, Jake Grech served Jurgen Degabriele inside the area with the latter’s attempt missing the target.

In the 76th minute, Balzan replied with a powerful shot by Aleksa Andrejic which was turned into a corner by the goalkeeper.

As the game seemed to head for a draw, in the 86th minute, Hibernians managed to break the deadlock. Substitute Aldama Thaylor delivered a cross from the right reaching FERDINANDO APAP whose first-time effort gave the goalkeeper Vukasin Vranes no chance.

In added time, Hibernians could have added another when in a swift counter-attack, Substitute Wilfried Domoraud served Jake Grech on the right but the latter’s attempt was blocked by Vukasin Vranes and off the rebound, Wilfried Domoraud’s effort ended over the bar.

HIBERNIANS: Ibrahim Kone, Ferdinando Apap, Leandro Almeida, Jake Grech, Jake Degabriele, Dunstan Vella, Joseph Zerafa (Gabriel Artiles 46’), Anrei Agius, Alvaro Muniz Cegarra (Aldama Thaylor 61’), Ali Diakite (Raphael dos Anjos 68’), Hugo Filipe Da Costa Oliveira (Wilfried Domoraud 88’).

BALZAN : Vukasin Vranes, Milan Djuric (Marcus Grima 67’), Paul Fenech (Bojan Kaljevic 90’), Nikola Gulan, Michael Johnson (N. Frendo 87’), Uros Ljubomirac, Milos Zlatkovic, Gary Camilleri, Milos Mijic, Aleksa Andrejic-6 (Suleiman Jalu 87’), S. Cipriott.

Referee: Stefan Pace.

BOV Player of the Match: Paul Fenech (Balzan).