SLIEMA WANDERERS 3
Milesi 16, Farrugia 35pen, 53
J. Galea-6, A. Satariano-6 (81 J. Mintoff), K. Shaw-6, A. Milesi-6.5 (66 Denilson-5) , J. Cisotti-6.5 (66 Gilmar-6), G. Aquilina-6, O. Bethancourt-6, JP. Farrugia-7, M. Beerman-6, D. Vukovic-6, S. Comvalius (28 R. Kisil-6.5).
V. Vranes-6, A. Loof-5, S. Arab-5 (66 S.Cipriott-5), P. Fenech-5 (83 N.Frendo), E. McWoods-4, S. Pisani-5 (83 G. Camilleri), M. Johnson-5 (83 M. Grima), U. Ljubomirac-6, S. Jalu-4, Weverton-4 (46 A. Effiong), M. Kamara-5.
Referee: Ishmael Barbara.
Yellow cards: Pisani, Shaw, Effiong, Ljubomirac, Kamara
BOV player of the match: Jean Paul Farrugia (Sliema Wanderers).
Jean Paul Farrugia’s double after Alessandro Milesi’s opener powered Sliema to a one-sided win over Balzan to keep the pace with Hibernians at the top of the Premier League.
It was a frantic start to the match which swung Sliema’s way when Juri Cisotti was denied by a brave diving save from Vukasin Vranes. The rebound fell to Alessandro Milesi’s feet and the Italian midfielder pushed the ball over the line.
Sliema’s pace often unnerved Balzan’s defence, although those in red were guilty of some uncharacteristic wayward passing.
But the Wanderers players were in sync with each other they caused Balzan problems.
One sparkling move on the half hour mark saw Cisotti click the ball into the path of Milesi who squared for Alexander Satariano but Vranes stuck out his foot to save his fort.
The Serbian goalkeeper made an even better save to deny Jean Paul Farrugia who was clear, standing until the last moment and blocking his effort.
Sylvano Comvalius was then forced off with injury as Andrea Pisanu brought on Ruslan Kisil.
On 35 minutes, Farrugia was adjudged to have been fouled by Augustine Loof inside the area. Referee Ishmael Barbara pointed to the spot and Farrugia took on the responsibility of taking the penalty which was fired past Vranes.
Mark Miller, replaced the fairly ineffective Weverton with Alfred Effiong after the break. The change and the tinkering of his 4-3-3 formation seemed to do the trick when Uros Ljubomirac made it 2-1. Pouncing on a clearance by Milesi, the Serbian winger showed excellent poise as he spread his body before unleashing a stunning shot that arrowed over Jake Galea.
Although that change beefed up Balzan’s attacking potential, it was their fragility at the back proved to be their Achilles’s heel.
On 53 minutes, Vranes denied Satariano and Milesi with two superb saves in quick succession but could do nothing when the rebound fell into the path of Farrugia who was completely unmarked in front of goal.
In another trademark Sliema move, Kisil cut inside the left flank before unleashing a shot that was stopped by the post with Vranes beaten.
Andrea Pisanu then chose to rest Cisotti, Milesi and Satariano but these changes did not affect Sliema’s attacking prowess as they continued in the ascendancy, with substitute Gilmar blocked by Gary Camilleri after a mazy run.