BOV Premier League | Balzan 1 – Pieta` Hotspurs 0

Balzan had to work hard to secure a 1-0 win over stubborn Pieta` Hotspurs.

Photo: Dominic Borg
Photo: Dominic Borg

Balzan started the match aiming to secure their fourth consecutive win in order to climb ahead of Valletta and Gżira. On the other hand, Pieta` are still looking to register their first win. The newly promoted side are finding life in the Premier League tough and till now they only secured two draws in their previous two matches against Qormi and Senglea.

This scenario made Balzan clear favourites to collect the three points. However, Pieta` made things complicated for other top teams such as Hibernians and Birkirkara already and thus Balzan needed to score early in order to dictate the tempo of the game.

Balzan made their intentions clear from the start and went close after seven minutes. Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte drilled a low shot that failed to hit the target.

Four minutes later, Alfred Effiong of Balzan saw his shot from inside the penalty area being neutralised by Nicolas Vella.

Majdevac was unlucky not to send Balzan ahead on the 20th minute. The Serbian forward went round his marker and fired a shot that stamped off the post.

Pieta` replied a minute later. Takaki Ose delivered an excellent ball towards Juan Manual Artiaga whose shot was saved by Steve Sultana.

Moments later, Jan Busuttil released Shunsuke Nakamura on the left and the latter hit a shot that was blocked by Sultana.

Balzan protested for a penalty on the 25th minute as Majdevac was floored down inside the penalty area by Antonio Orlando Macedo. However, the referee waved play on.

Marko Micovic’s side kept on insisting and threatened again five minutes from half-time. Alex Da Paixao Alves sent a shot from distance that was parried for a corner by Vella.

Balzan remained on the offensive during the second half and created another chance on the 54th minute. Correa Duarte unleashed a powerful shot that forced an excellent save from Vella.

As time went by, Balzan remained superior and were unlucky not to score the opening gaol on the 62nd minute. Uros Ljubomirac’s shot was blocked by Vella. The ball rolled into the path of Effiong whose final effort was cleared off the line by Christian Grech.

Balzan lost another opportunity on the 78th minute. From a free-kick, the ball was delivered towards Michael Johnson whose header sailed across the frame of goal.

Pieta` had a rare opportunity a minute later. Paul Chimezie squared the ball for Neil Pace Cocks who finished wide from close range.

Balzan finally broke the deadlock on the 85th minute. Alfred Effiong received the ball deep inside the penalty area and slotted it past Vella.

The newly-promoted side hit back immediately and lost a golden opportunity to equalise during the additional time given by the referee. Michael Johnson floored Clyde Bouvet inside the penalty area and the referee signalled for a penalty. However, Christain Grech’s shot from the eleven metres mark was blocked by Sultana.

Following this result, Balzan climb momentarily first, while Pieta` remain second from bottom.

Balzan starting line-up: Steve Sultana, Justin Grioli, Dale Camilleri, Alex Da Paixao Alves, Steven Bezzina, Michael Johnson, Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic, Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte, Andrija Majdevac

Pieta` Hotspurs starting line-up: Nicholas Vella, Takaki Ose, Travis Bartolo, Neil Pace Cocks, Paul Chimezie, Jan Busuttil, Juan Manual Artiaga, Christian Grech, Shunsuke Nakamura, Irmiya Ishaya Jalo, Antonio Orlando Macedo

Referee: Darryl Agius

Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Duncan Spencer

Fourth Official: Keith Motebello

BOV Player of the Match: Alex Da Paixao Alves (Balzan)

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