Balzan kept their hopes, of finishing fourth in the Premier League this season, alive till the final day when they edged past Sliema Wanderers in a hard-fought encounter
Balzan are now in 5th place with 43 points, two less than Hamrun and one more than Sliema W. This means that the 4th spot will eventually be decided on the final day.
The remaining fixture in connection with acquiring the 4th place are: Hamrun s vs Valletta; Balzan vs Hibernians and Sliema W vs Pieta H. Birkirkara might still have their say if they win against Qormi and Senglea A.
Early goals by Alfred Effiong and Andrija Majdevac gave Balzan a 2-0 lead. Kurt Shaw replied for Sliema just before the interval, but it proved to be not enough for Sliema.
Balzan could not have a better start, as inside the first 13 minutes they were already two goals ahead.
In the 7th minute. Balzan forged ahead when Ricardo Calixto Correa’s cross shot from the left was palmed onto the crossbar by Timothy Aquilina and off the rebound ALFRED EFFIONG finished the ball home.
As Sliema had not yet recovered from this setback, Balzan struck again. In the 13th minute, as Ricardo Correa advanced into the Sliema area John Mintoff floored him and the referee signalled a penalty. From the penalty spot-kick, ANDRIJA MAJDEVAC made no mistake.
In the 19th minute, John Mintoff served Younes Marzouk but the Sliema striker finished wide.
In the 24th minute, John Mintoff had to leave the pitch injured and was replaced by Frank Temile.
On the half hour mark, Ryan Fenech sent a cross towards Younes Marzouk at the far post but the latter headed wide.
In the 45th minute, Sliema managed to pull a goal back when KURT SHAW hit a firm drive that gave no chance to Tarxien goalie Sean Mintoff.
Soon after the start of the second half, Sliema almost equalised but a header by Frank Temile was saved by Sean Mintoff.
In the 66th minute, Sliema lost their midfielder Mark Scerri to injury and was replaced by Kllian Amehi.
Kllian Amehi almost made an instant impact as, after only 2 minutes in the pitch, he finished on the ground in a tackle with Nenad Sljivic, but the referee signalled play on.
In the 80th minute, Balzan threatened but Ricardo Correa’s low drive was easily blocked by Timothy Aquilina.
Two minutes from time, Ricardo Correa was fouled just outside the Sliema area and had to leave the pitch through injury. Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes (Kadu) replaced him and almost struck with his first touch as, from the resulting free-kick, his thumping drive hit the cross bar and finished out.
BALZAN : Sean Mintoff, Justin Grioli, Nenad Sljivic, Steven Pisani, Paul Fenech, Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac, Elkin Serrano Valero, Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte (Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes 88′), Andrija Majdevac (Steven Bezzina 77′), Milos Lepovic (Dale Camilleri 70′).
SLIEMA W : Timothy Aquilina, Alex Muscat (Gareth Barone 73′), Kurt Shaw, Jonathan Pearson, John Mintoff (Frank Temile 24′), Mark Scerri (Kllian Amehi 67′), Ignacio Varela, Ryan Fenech, Nii Nortey Ashong, Claudio Pani, Younes Marzouk.
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
BOV Player of the Match: Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte