Matchday 25: Valletta 1 Balzan 1
The relegation limbo which faced Valletta early in their league trek has now disappeared.
Valletta’s faithful supporters left the Tony Bezzina stadium yesterday certain that what they feared could happen at the end of the season will not materailise.
The outlook is much brighter for them with the Lilywhites now fully focused on the FA Trophy after their qualification for the semi-finals.
The vital point picked at the expense of Balzan, opponents who were entertaining hopes of a win to make up the leeway to avoid the drop.
Most of the credit goes to Valletta for refusing to concede defeat against opponents who had an edge in possession and a higher work rate in the second half when a last minute reaction by Valletta earned them the equaliser that secured their stay in the Premier League.
On the other hand, Balzan face an anxious finale to the campaign as they remain second-from-bottom, two points from third-from-bottom Sta Lucia who face Mosta today.
Balzan sprung the first surprise in the line-up when coach Paul Zammit was conspicuous by his absence. It seems that Balzan decided to relieve him of his duties as coach with Alejandro Pantoja taking charge.
Valletta were the better side in the first half. Balzan looked jittery in every department particularly upfront.
Yet, the Reds came close to breaking the deadlock in the 24th minute when Sean Cipriott squared a ball for Paul Fenech who flicked the ball onto the post.
Yesterday, Valletta pinned all their hopes on a young forward line made of Andrea Zammit and David Promise.
They combined well on the half hour mark when Zammit put Promise through and the Canadian striker unleashed a powerful shot which was saved by Rudy Briffa, who was brought on to relieve the injured Jake Galea.
Yet Valletta could do nothing to prevent Uros Ljubomirac from putting his team ahead 15 minutes from time. Marcus Grima served the Serbian midfielder who rushed in from the blind side to hit an angled shot behind Alessandro Guarnone .
Balzan remained on top with Valletta forced to pull more men into deep positions.
Nine minutes from time, the Reds thought that they had wrapped up the points when substitute Bojan Kaljevic hit the ball home from Ljubomirac’s delivery. However, the Montenegrin striker was adjudged to be in an offside position.
However, at death, Balzan felt prey to their own defensive frailties when Mario Fontanella profited from a mishap to prod home the equaliser.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: A. Guarnone, J. Borg (S. Dimech), C. Gauci, A. Zammit (H. Dilaver), E. Pena Beltre, P. Emanuel David, R. Muscat, E. Sala, C. Prado, M. Fontanella, K. Tulimieri (S. Mackay).
BALZAN: J. Galea (R. Briffa), A. Loof, M. Grima, M. Duric, P. Fenech (N. Frendo), N. Gulan, U. Ljuborimac, M. Zlatkovic, M. Mijic (B. Kaljevic), A. Andrejic, S. Cipriott.
Referee: S. Pace
Yellow Cards: A. Loof, S. Cipriott, B. Kaljevic (B), R. Muscat (V)
Scorers: 75′ U. Ljuborimac, 90′ M. Fontanella (V).
Man of the Match: U. Ljuborimac (B)