Day 20 Valletta 0 Bkara 0
Valletta lost precious ground in this season’s title race when they were held to a goalless draw by Birkirkara to slip three points adrift of leaders Balzan.
The Citizens had to win the match at all costs to keep the pace with Balzan and almost stormed ahead after nine minutes.
Albert Prosa sprinted forward on the right flank and sent a low cross towards Miguel Alba who fired wide. The City players protested for a penalty as they felt that Cain Attard had pushed the Argentine before he concluded but referee Glen Tonna waved play on.
Valletta had another glorious chance a minute later when Mislav Andelkovic lost his footing and was dispossessed by Prosa who stormed forward and with only Kristjan Naumovski to beat he saw his effort brilliantly saved by the Macedonian goalkeeper.
The match now developed into a hard-fought battle for midfield supremacy with little scoring chances.
In fact the next chance arrived on 32 minutes when Saleh galloped forward and put Kyrian Nwoko clear but the young striker was again denied by Naumovski.
From the resultant corner, taken by Alba, the ball fell to Ryan Camilleri who blasted wide.
Birkirkara’s best chance came on 61 minutes when Carlos Alberto created space for himself on the right and his low cross found Rolovic unmarked but the Montenegrin fired wide with only Bonello to beat.
The match was fast turning into a scrappy affair with both sides lacking the flair to penetrate their opponents’ defence.
Eight minutes from time, Nikola Vukanac almost struck for Birkirkara but his thumping header was providentially blocked by Ryan Camilleri.
Valletta responded on 86 minutes with a fierce drive from Malano that was saved in two attempts by Naumovski.
Both teams were going for broke now with Birkirkara threatening again a minute from time when Vukanac latched on to Ryan Scicluna’s cross but his header finished just over.
Source – timesofmalta.com
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, S. Malano, E. Pena Beltre, J. Zerafa, I. Saleh (M. Mifsud), R. Muscat, M. Alba, A. Prosa (M. Piciollo), K. Nwoko (D. Dos Santos).
BIRKIRKARA – K. Naumovski, F. Barbosa Pereira, M. Andlekovic, J. Grech (T. Agius), K. Zammit, O. Rolovic, N. Vukanac, C. Alberto Da Silva (T. Agius), S. Dimitrov (E. Herrera), R. Scicluna, C. Attard.
Yellow Cards: R. Muscat (V), N. Vukanac (B).
Man of Match: I. Saleh (V)
Referee: G. Tonna