Day 8 Valletta 0 Birkirkara 2
Birkirkara produced arguably their best performance so far this season as they overcame champions Valletta.
With leaders Hibernians dropping their first points in their 1-1 draw against rivals Tarxien Rainbows yesterday, this was an opportunity for Birkirkara and Valletta to reduce the gap on the Paolites but it was the Stripes who managed to do that.
Their 2-o victory was richly deserved as they were the better team for long stretches to deepen Valletta’s crisis as the Whites have now lost four of their opening eight games.
Shola Shodiya Haruna, who rejoined Birkirkara earlier this month, was named among the substitutes.
The game was off to a slow start with Valletta showing the better ideas early on only for Birkirkara to take control as the first half progressed.
Inside the opening two minutes, Nicky Vella, the Valletta goalkeeper, pushed away Rafael Ledesma’s corner.
Valletta’s Roderick Briffa, deployed in an attacking position, headed wide from Alex Terra’s reverse cross.
The Brazilian then hit the side-netting after being put through by the returning Steve Borg.
Birkirkara improved. Rafael Ledesma had a low effort blocked by Vella after being served by Bissi. There was a scare for Valletta when Ledesma’s cross, from a corner, triggered a goalmouth melee but Mendoza’s close-range effort was blocked.
The Stripes took the lead on 31 minutes. Valletta conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position and Ledesma’s well-struck shot, hit towards the far corner, flew past the diving Vella.
Another Ledesma delivery, this time from a wide position, again threatened to undo Valletta as the ball sailed towards the far post but Liliu just failed to make contact.
Valletta were struggling. They would have fallen further behind on the stroke of half-time but for the woodwork.
Herrera cut in from the right and his cross-shot was repelled by Vella but the ball flew towards Camenzuli whose effort came off the crossbar. On another occasion, Herrera fired over.
Seven minutes into the second half, Ryan Fenech headed away Ledesma’s cross from another corner.
Elford-Alliyu rifled high from outside the box after receiving from Briffa but it was Birkirkara who doubled their lead on 65 minutes.
A quick passing move opened up the stationary Valletta defence as the influential Paul Fenech flicked the ball into the box and towards the advancing Scicluna who was clean through. As Vella dashed out of goal, Scicluna squared to Liliu who deposited the ball into the unguarded net.
That was that as Valletta never gave the impression that they could force a comeback while Birkirkara remained in control.
Birkirkara captain Paul Fenech was named BOV player of the match.
VALLETTA – N. Vella, S. Bajada, L. Dimech, R. Fenech (A. Nafti), A. Terra (L- Elford), J. Caruana, R. Camilleri, R. Briffa (I. Zammit) , S. Borg, H. Faria, H. Barry.
BIRKIRKARA – J. Haber, M. Bissi, E. Antonio Costa (l. Grech), N. Vukanac, A. Mendoza, R. Rodrigues Ledesma (H. Shola Shodiya), P. Fenech, Z. Muscat, R. Scicluna, E. Herrera, R. Camenzuli (E. Agius).
Date: 19.10.14 Time: 17:00 Venue: National Stadiumi
Scorers: 31′ R. Ledesma, 66′ E. Antonio Costa
Yellow Cards: P. Fenech (B), L. Dimech, S. Borg, H. Faria (V)
Man of Match: Paul Fenech (B)
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann