Day 10 Valletta 1 Balzan Y. 1 Published on: 02-11-2012
Valletta succumbed to a second consecutive draw when they were held by a stubborn Balzan side.
Valletta tore out of the blocks and fashioned the first chance inside the first five minutes as Mifsud, profiting from some sloppy defending by Balzan, burst clear but his angled drive was cleared off the line by former Valletta midfielder. But Valletta did not have to wait too long to seize the lead. Mendy scythed down Denni inside the right flank and Bajada's ensuing delivery was met by the nippy Brazilian who headed into the net after 10 minutes.
Balzan's riposte was immediate and they levelled matters two minutes later. Pedrinho, latching on to a through-ball from Mendy, surged into the box, rounded Manuel Bartolo before curling a precise flick into the far corner.
Valletta's initial frenzy petered out as Balzan's movement of their forwards was giving the slow-moving Valletta defenders a torrid time and this was in abundant evidence after 25 minutes. Briffa conceded a foul in a potentially menacing position after bringing down Mendy. And Christian Caruana almost stunned Valletta when he headed just wide from Pedrinho's free-kick.
There was a conspicuous rise in the intensity of the exchanges as the Citizens tried to push more men upfield. In the 38th minute, Fredrick Tabone palmed away Gabriel's goalbound strike and then, the outstanding Tabone stopped Briffa's header.
The quick-footed Pedrinho set Valletta's pulses racing few moments later and Jonathan Caruana resorted to a foul to tame the Brazilian, conceding another free-kick in a key area. The Brazilian then sent his shot just over the bar.
Another fluent Balzan move then opened Valletta as Pace darted into the box from the right to connect to a pass from Martin Deanov but Bartolo, the Valletta goalkeeper, did well to block the effort by the ex-Valletta midfielder.
Less than a minute in the second half, Deanov's shot-cum-cross caused panic in the Valletta box but it found no takers.
In the 65th minute, Denni threatened to steal the limelight for Valletta when he unleashed a powerful grounder that rattled the upright.
Valletta attacked incessantly in the closing minutes but Balzan refused to wilt. In the 77th minute, Tabone stopped Gabriel's effort.
In a nervy-finale, Gabriel almost snatched all points when Briffa's cross-field pass out of defence was intercepted by the Brazilian striker who advanced in on goal but shot over.
VALLETTA - M. Bartolo, J. Caruana, J. Gabriel Da Silva, R. Barreto Da Rocha Filho, M. Mifsud, K. Magro (E. Agius), D. Dos Santos, S. Bajada (I. Zammit), W. Barbosa (L. Da Silva Almeida), R. Fenech, R. Briffa.
BALZAN Y. - F. Tabone, Y. Camilleri, S. Giglio, C. Micallef (A. Agius), M. Mendy, D. Grima, B. Bondin, J. Pace, C. Caruana (J. Borg), M. Deanov (M. Licari), P. Dos Santos calcado.
Date: 2-11-12 Time: 20:15 Venue: Victor Tedesco Stadium
Scorers: 11' D. Dos santos, 12' P. Dos Santos Calcado
Yellow Cards: M. Mendy, R. Briffa, J. Caruana, B. Bondin, R. Barreto Da Rocha Filho
Man of Match: Frederick Tabone (B)
Referee: Paul Caruana