Matchday 19: Valletta 1 Sirens 0
Valletta halted their winless streak to claim their seventh victory of the season after a hard-fought 1-0 at the expense of Sirens.
The encounter turned out to be a nervy affair with Valletta reduced to nine players at the end, while Sirens played majority of the game with ten after a first-half sending off.
Shifting the attention towards the championship table, the Citizens have now moved up to seventh with 27 points while Sirens are now ninth, on 25 points.
A Matteo Piciollo curling effort diverted into corner by Sirens goalkeeper David Cassar was Valletta’s first threat, early in the game.
Moments later, Samba Tounkara failed to connect with a perfectly-weighted cross from Terence Agius before the Sirens forward had another chance, this time he fired straight into Henry Bonello’s hands.
In a matter of moments past the half-hour mark, Sirens went from protesting heavily for a penalty that referee Etienne Mangion failed to award to ending with ten men as according to the match officials, Tamsir Jammeh hit Eslit Sala with his elbow near the touchline.
Valletta failed to profit from their numerical advantage, with their only chances before the break being a close-range shot from Lucas Campos denied by Cassar and a Piciollo effort which was blocked by the Sirens no.1 again.
At the restart, Lamin Bittaye latched onto a Tounkara cross but Bonello was alert to avert the danger.
As the half wore on, Valletta were struggling to break down Sirens while the St Paul Bay’s side was waiting to strike on the break.
Nonetheless, the Citizens managed to forge ahead when Sala directed a towering header past Cassar for his second goal of season.
Ten minutes from time, substitute Kyrian Nwoko almost scored with a stunning overhead kick, only to be denied by inches.
Yet, there was still time for a twist in the game when Ryan Camilleri tripped Tounkara inside the area with the referee pointing to the spot and red-carded the City defender.
With Valletta’s Camilleri still making his way out of the pitch, Domoraud failed to convert from the spot amid the protests of Sirens as the City player had not yet left the field.
In the closing stages of the game, Valletta were reduced to nine men when goalkeeper Bonello retaliated to a Bittaye foul, hitting the Sirens player on his face.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: H. Bonello; R. Camilleri; T. Caruana (70 K. Nwoko); S. Malano; M. Piciollo (90 S. Mackay); E. Sala; R. Muscat; L. Aguirre I. Maric (46 R. Fenech-6); M. Fontanella (90 Y. Cini); L.Campos.
SIRENS: D. Cassar; J. Pearson; L. Bittaye; W. Domoraud; E. Callegari; J. Walker; S. Tounkara; R. Scicluna; T. Agius (82 H. Kone); T. Jammeh; T. Espindola.
Scorers: 75′ E. Sala (V)
Referee: E. Mangion
Yellow Cards: T. Jammeh, S. Tounkara, E. Callegari, L. Bittaye (S), H. Bonello (V)
Red Cards: T. Jammeh (S), R. Camilleri, H. Bonello (V)
BOV Player of the Match: E. Sala (V)