Ħamrun Spartans secured a hard-fought win against Balzan thanks to Jonny’s late strike and extended their lead at the top of the Premier League by seven points. On the other hand Balzan, continue to share the seventh place with Mosta on 14 points, one behind Floriana and one ahead of Marsaxlokk.
Balzan deserved a point for their efforts,even though they concentrated more on holding Ħamrun’s attacking power rather than threatening up front.
Balzan opted to defend for long stretches allowing Ħamrun possession in midfield but stopping every effort in their area ensuring a relatively quiet opening half their goalkeeper Jonathan Debono.
In their first counterattack Elvis Mashike ran almost the entire length of the pitch on the left flank, but Diver Duvan Torres Quinone showed great defensive intelligence to block his effort.
In the 11th minute Nikola Braunovic was on the alert to block on the line a shot by Ederson Bruno Domingos.
A minute later Balzan broke swiftly up the field as Paul Fenech exchanged the ball with Alexander Satariano who in turn served Suleiman Jalu. The Dutch striker’s shot to goal was turned into a corner with difficulty by goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
In the 28th minute, Balzan defense cleared to safety a teasing cross by Ryan Camenzuli.
Ħamrun increased their possession, but grew increasingly frustrated by Balzan’s solid defence and opted to start shooting from outside the area.
The first half ended 0-0 with very few goal scoring opportunities.
On restart Hamrun, in a bid to increase the forward power, replaced Juan Carlos Corbalan with Jonny Robert Do Nascimento Torres.
It started as quietly as the first half, although Matthew Guillaumier diverted a cross from Roko Prsa onto the side netting.
In the 53rd minute, Roko Prsa had a goal disallowed for an offside position.
In the 58th minute, Ederson Bruno Domingos saw his cross-shot from the right flashing across the face of goal.
In the 62nd minute Balzan replaced Suleiman Jalu with Milos Zlatkovic.
A minute later Hamrun made a double substitution, in an effort to force their way into the game, where Luke Montebello and Vinicius De Freitas Ribeiro went in instead of Ryan Camenzuli u Jorge Ailton Soares respectively. But Moncilo Raso was a towering presence in the centre of the Balzan defence and they continued to frustrate Ħamrun in the second half.
In the 70th minute Balzan also made a double substitution where they replaced Alexander Satariano and Matheus Nogureira Ablquerque de Sousa with Bojan Kaljevic and Benjamin Hili.
4 minutes later Hamrun made their fourth substitution where Matteo Fedele came in for Ognejn Bjelicic.
In the 81st minute, when it appeared as though the game was drifting towards a stalemate, Balzan committed the error, when off a cross by Elvis Mashike Suskisa from the right, Luke Montebello took advantage of a Balzan defender’s short clearance, serving JONNY ROBERT DO NASCIMENTO TORRES who slammed the ball home from close range.
After the goal Balzan had to make a forced substitute as Nikola Braunovic had to leave the pitch injured and Adam Bradshaw came in for him.
In the last minutes of the game, Benjamin Hili received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Despite being a man short, Balzan put everything in front to try and salvage a point but their efforts didn’t materialise, with Hamrun finally taking home the three points.
ĦAMRUN SPARTANS: Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Matthew Guillaumier, Elvis Mashike Sukisa, Jorge Ailton Soares (Vinicius de Freitas Ribeiro 63’), Roko Prsa, Ederson Bruno Domingos, Ognejn Bjelicic (Mateo Fedele 77’), Juan Carlos Corbalan (Jonny Robert Do Nascimento Torres 46’), Emerson Marcelina, Ryan Camenzuli (Luke Montebello 63’).
BALZAN: Jonathan Debono, Ivan Bozovic, Samir Arab, Paul Fenech, Uros Ljubomirac, Suleiman Jalu (Milos Zlatkovic 62’), Alexander Satariano (Benjamin Hili 70’), Nikola Braunovic (Adam Bradshaw 81′), Momcilo Raso, Matheus Nogureira Abulquerque de Sousa (Bojan Kaljevic 70’)
Referee: Alex Johnson.
BOV player of the match: Jonny Robert Do Nascimento Torres (Ħamrun Spartans)