BOV Premier League | Floriana 1 - Valletta 1

Despite having to play the second half with ten men, Floriana remained disciplined to hold Valletta in a 1-1 draw and thus give Balzan the chance to make up for last week's defeat.

Matteo Picciolo celebrating his goal. Photo: Dominic Borg
Matteo Picciolo celebrating his goal. Photo: Dominic Borg

Valletta were eager to secure a win against rivals Floriana in order to put one hand on the trophy. However, Floriana were determined to stop them from doing so. The Greens also had an extra incentive as they needed a win in order to get closer towards Europe.

 Danilo Doncic kept faith in the same eleven players that won 3-0 against Ħamrun Spartans. Nicolas Chiesa did the same as he made no changes to the side that drew level with Sliema Wanderers.

Valletta protested heavily for a penalty after two minutes. Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre went down inside the penalty area after being challenged by Enzo Ruiz. However, the referee waved play on despite Valletta’s harsh protests.

The citizens forged ahead on the 8th minute. Following a mistake by Emerson Marcellina, Miguel Angel Alba won the ball and passed it towards Kyrian Nwoko. The latter delivered a low cross which Alba left it for Matteo Piciollo. The Italian midfielder kept his composure and finished past Ini Etim Akpan from close range.

Floriana hit back on the 20th minute. From a free-kick, Maurizio Vella sent a cross towards Mario Fontanella who headed the ball towards Nayar. The Argentine attempted to place the ball inside the net, but his effort was blocked by Henry Bonello.

Four minutes later, Enzo Ruiz of Floriana delivered a cross in the direction of Steve Pisani whose acrobatic effort failed to hit the target.

Danilo Doncic’s side went close again on the 36th minute. Alba hit a low shot from distance that ended up slightly wide.

Two minutes later, it was Floriana’s time to protest for a penalty. Vella went down inside the penalty area hoping to win a penalty for his side. Alan Mario Sant judged this to be a simulation and cautioned Floriana’s player.

Floriana suffered a set back two minutes prior to half time as they had a player sent off. Jurgen Pisani spat towards Alba and left the referee with no option but to show him a straight red card.

Valletta started the second half on the attack in order to increase their advantage and went close on the 56th minute. Picciolo exchanged possession with Santiago Malano and the latter saw his powerful shot hitting the side netting.

The Premier League leaders kept on insisting and threatened Floriana again on the 63rd minute. Malano sent a powerful drive from the edge of the penalty area that went slightly wide.

Picciolo thought that he had doubled Valletta’s lead on the 69th minute. Alba hit a low drive which stamped off the post. The ball fell for the twenty-six year old who placed it past Akpan. Valletta’s players and technical staff celebrated the goal, but the assistant referee had other thoughts as he raised his flag for an offside.

Floriana scored the equalising goal on the 74th minute. Following a free-kick by Vella, Enzo Ruiz anticipated Henry Bonello and finished inside the net.

Akpan denied Valletta from regaining the lead on the 79th minute. Alba’s cross was met by Malano whose header was tipped behind by Floriana’s custodian.

In the remaining minutes, Floriana held firm to take an important point and put more doubt on which side will win the Premier League.

Floriana starting line-up: Ini Etim Akpan, Sebastian Nayar, Enrico Pepe, Enzo Ruiz, Steve Pisani, Maurizio Vella (Dylan Grima – 90), Juninho Cabral, Jurgen Pisani, Alex Cini, Mario Fontanella, Emerson Marcelina

Valletta starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Santiago Malano, Matteo Picciolo (Joseph Zerafa-70) , Kyrian Nwoko, Jean Borg, Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre, Ibrahim Raed Saleh (Michael Mifsud – 84), Rowen Muscat, Miguel Angel Alba (Denni Rocha Dos Santos-80 )

Referee: Alan Mario Sant

Assistant Referees: Mitchel Scerri, Paul Apap

Additional Assistant Referees: Mario Apap, Matthew Degabriele

Fourth Official:  Jurgen Spiteri

BOV Player of the Match: Sebastian Nayar (Floriana)