LIJA ATHLETIC 0
Moussa Kamara opened his Balzan account as Mark Miller’s side defeated neighbours Lija Athletic 1-0, at the National Stadium.
The Gambia international, 21, was playing his fourth game for the Reds and managed to fire home his first goal for Balzan when he profited from a flipper inside the penalty box before sending the ball into the back of the net.
It was a much-needed victory for Balzan, who were joint-level with Lija Athletic on four points heading into this game.
This was just their second win in five games, where they have scored only five goals and conceded four.
Lija, on their part, did not put up their best performance of the season but they kept striving for at least a point until the end, highlight of their resilience and tenacity that has helped them earn four points so far.
The early stages of the opening half were fairly-balanced between two sides that headed into this fixture with a cautious approach.
Lija may have been slightly more aggressive in their pressing, in particularn with their offensive department but did not manage create any sort of threat to Balzan.
As the the half wore on, though, Balzan were inching up their way up the field with the excellent ball progression of midfield duo Paul Fenech and Steve Pisani.
Balzan made their possession count when Kamara slotted past Luke Bonnici after receiving from Uros Ljubomirac inside the penalty box.
Lija were looking to stage a reaction but Balzan’s compactness was denying them access into the offensive third.
It was Balzan who almost found the next goal in the game through Suleiman Jalu who darted towards goal but his effort from tight angle failed to hit the target.
Balzan had another attempt through Eric McWoods who let fly a shot from the edge of the area but did not trouble goalkeeper Bonnici.
Lija’s only effort on goal in the opening half came through Fernando Brandan who attempted his luck from long-range only to see Sean Mintoff block his shot.
After the break, Lija’s Neil Micallef tried his luck from a long distance after a solo effort, but his shot went in vain as Balzan were still leading by a goal.
A lacklustre Erjon Beu tried an effort on goal from a free-kick just to see the ball sail over the bar.
Twenty minutes from time, Micallef came close to level terms for Lija just to see his header cleared off the line before his rebound went wide.
Balzan came close to seal the win through Suleiman whose curling effort, though, did not hit the base of the net.
At the other end, Lija’s midfielder Brandan dribbled past an opponent before hitting a long-range drive which finished inches wide.
McWoods could have doubled Balzan’s lead but his point-blank range effort was spectacularly blocked by Bonnici to keep his side’s hopes of a positive result alive.
Nonetheless, Balzan maintained their one-goal lead to earn all three points.