A first-half goal scored by Kurt Shaw handed Sliema Wanderers their first three points of the season after seeing off Balzan. A win that should revive their morale ahead of their remaining commitments although they remain at the bottom of the table, four points behind Santa Lucia and five behind Mosta.
Balzan, on the other hand, remains eighth on 20 points to complete a most disappointing week which saw them earn just one point from three matches, twice losing a comfortable two-goal lead after their dramatic defeat and draw against Birkirkara and Ħamrun Spartans respectively. This comes as an unexpected defeat which dents their chances of a top-six finish and an eventual Championship Pool spot.
In the opening half, goal-scoring chances were scarce with Balzan attempting a couple of efforts from long-range but it was all in vain.
In the 16th minute, Balzan suffered an early blow in the game when debuting Serbian defender Nikola Gulan had to leave the pitch when he picked up an injury, with Neil Frendo taking his place on the field.
As the first half was set to remain locked in a goalless stalemate, in the 38th minute, Sliema scored the all-important goal when off a Danny Holla corner from the right, Matteo Piciollo shot the ball towards goal with the ball being pushed away by goalkeeper Jake Galea. Defender KURT SHAW pounced on the loose ball inside the penalty area and placed the ball at the back of the net.
At the restart, Balzan replaced winger Alvin Kevin Daniels with midfielder Milan Duric, trying to stage a reaction in search of a draw.
Aleksa Andrejic came closest to level terms when his low drive went inches wide past the goal guarded by David Cassar, who from this action suffered an injury and had to be replaced with debutant 17-year-old Adam Buttigieg.
Uros Ljubomirac tried to test goalkeeper Adam Buttigieg after a well-engineered positive transition but failed to capitalize on this opportunity.
Adam Buttigieg was tested again moments later when Milan Duric fired a long-range shot which forced Buttigieg into a spectacular save.
The young goalkeeper was called into action again when, six minutes from time, he once again kept Milan Duric at bay, clearing a Balzan corner on the goal line as he continued to preserve Sliema’s one-goal lead.
SLIEMA WANDERERS : David Cassar (Adam Buttigieg 63’); Juan Pablo Morales, Kurt Shaw, Mark Scerri, Ruslan Kisil (60 Gui Inters 60’), Danny Holla (Edmond Agius 69’), Matteo Piciollo (Jake Engerer 82’), Oscar Bethancourt Linton, Myles Beerman, Dejan Vukovic, Valmir Berisha (J. Goncalves 82’).
BALZAN : Jake Galea; Augustine Loof, Marcus Grima, Paul Fenech (Malik JoaquinTrustfull 90’), Alvin Kevin Daniels (Milan Duric 46’), Nikola Gulan (Neil Frendo 16’), Uros Ljubomirac, Gary Camilleri (Suleiman Jalu 68’), Milos Mijic, Aleksa Andrejic, Sean Cipriott.
Referee: Stefan Pace.
BOV Player of the Match: Kurt Shaw (Sliema Wanderers).