BOV Premier League | Balzan 1 – Floriana 1

Balzan dropped two important points as they were held by Floriana in a 1-1 draw.

Balzan 1 - Floriana 1
Balzan 1 - Floriana 1

The second match at the National stadium saw the teams of Balzan and Floriana facing off each other. This was an important fixture for both sides; however, Balzan were much more under pressure as they needed a good result to consolidate their place at the top of the table.

Balzan were without their coach Marko Micovic who was suspended. Ludvic Bartolo was guiding the team from the bench. The Premier League leaders also had to make four changes to the team that faced Valletta. Ivan Janjusevic, Alfred Effiong, Ryan Fenech and Bruno Gilio de Oliveira started the match instead of Sean Mintoff, Uros Ljubomirac, Milos Lepovic and Michael Johnson.

On the other hand, Nicolas Chiesa decided to keep the same players that started against Ħamrun Spartans.

During the first round, both teams shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

Floriana created the first chance of the match after fifteen minutes. Artur Oyana hit a shot from a free-kick that was neutralised by Ivan Janjusevic.

A minute later, Janjusevic had to be on the alert once more to deny Floriana. Sebastian Nayar fired a shot from distance that was parried by Balzan’s goalkeeper.

Balzan responded on the 19th minute. Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes received the ball inside the penalty area and sent a shot that went over.

Floriana broke the deadlock on the 35th minute. Nayar sent an excellent ball towards Mario Fontanella who went past two defenders and hit a low shot that gave Janjusevic no chance.

In the additional time given by the referee prior to half time, Juninho Cabral of Floriana fired a shot from a free-kick that failed to hit the target.

Balzan started the second half on the attack and were close to equalise on the 48th minute. De Fiori Mendes delivered a cross towards Alfred Effiong whose shot forced a good save from Ini Etim Akpan.

Floriana responded on the 54th minute. Fontanella ran inside the penalty area and hit a shot that failed to hit the target.

Three minutes later, Effiong went on a great run inside the penalty area, but found Akpan in his way as the Floriana goalkeeper produced another good save to deny him.

Balzan equalised on the hour mark. Effiong sent De Fiori Mendes through on goal and the latter finished past Akpan from close range. This goal brought harsh protests from Floriana’s technical staff and players who argued that De Fiori Mendes was in an offside position.

Effiong nearly sent Balzan ahead on the 72nd minute. The Maltese international player received a long ball and went through down the left side, but saw his effort going slightly wide.

Balzan kept on insisting and created another chance on the 77th minute. Bojan Kaljevic received a cross and headed the ball towards goal. The ball was heading towards the net, but Enzo Ruiz rushed back and cleared it off the line.

Floriana hit back in the additional time. Cabral delivered the ball towards Fontanella whose shot ended up off target.

Following this result, Valletta can go just one point behind Balzan if they secure a win over bottom side Lija Athletic.

Balzan starting line-up: Ivan Janjusevic, Steven Bezzina, Alfred Effiong, Ryan Fenech (Justin Grioli – 45), Bruno Gilio de Oliveira, Ivan Bozovic (Siraj Eddin Arab- 80), Bojan Kaljevic, Paul Fenech, Alex Da Paixao Alves, Elkin Serrano Valero, Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes

Floriana starting line-up: Ini Etim Akpan, Sebastian Nayar, Enrico Pepe, Enzo Ruiz (Jurgen Pisani – 84), Steve Pisani, Juninho Cabral, Alex Cini, Arthur Oyama, Dylan Grima, Mario Fontanella, Emerson Marcellina

Referee: Matthew Degabriele

Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Dusan Petrovic

Additional Assistant Referees: Glen Tonna, Eman Grech

Fourth Official: William Debattista

BOV Player of the Match: Alfred Effiong (Balzan)

Yellow Cards: Elkin Serrano Valero (Balzan), Alex Da Paixao Alves (Balzan), Emerson Marcellina (Floriana), Ini Etim Akpan (Floriana), Sebastian Nayar (Floriana)