Piciollo 10; Fontanella 55
SENGLEA ATHLETIC 1
H. Bonello-7; T. Caruana-7; S. Malano-6 (68 S. Dimech); Taylon-5 (69 K. Nwoko) (89 R. Fenech); M. Piciollo-8; J. Borg-7; E. Pena Beltre-6.5; J. Zerafa-6.5; E. Sala-6.5; R. Muscat-6.5; M. Fontanella-6.5 (79 L. Aguirre).
J. Martinelli-8; Z. Cassar-6.5; A. Abela-6; F. Aboulezz-6.5 (53 D. Xuereb-5); K. Atkinson-6.5; I. Misan-6; U. Parezanin-6; J. Tanti-5.5 (73 R. Song); L. Riascos-6; D. Kukic-5; W. Gomes-5.
Referee Emanuel Grech.
Yellow cards Cassar, Fenech, Riascos.
BOV Player of the Match Matteo Piciollo (Valletta).
Italian duo Matteo Piciollo and Mario Fontanella grabbed a goal each to earn Valletta three valuable points as they defeated a resilient Senglea Athletic side 2-1.
For all the territory domination and chances that Valletta had, the scoreline does not do justice to Jesmond Zerafa’s clan.
This was a crucial victory that halts a three-game winless streak and puts the 25-time champions five points behind joint-leaders Hibernians and Sliema Wanderers, but with a game hand.
Senglea, on their part, were under the guidance of coach Clive Mizzi for the first this season after his appointment earlier last week.
The Cottonera-based side remained with a chance of obtaining something from this game largely thanks to goalkeeper Jonathan Martinelli, whose outstanding saves prevented Valletta from securing a larger win.
Valletta set the pace from the starting whistle with Piciollo almost breaking the duck within seconds just to see his effort go wide from Martinelli’s goal.
Forward Mario Fontanella threatened Senglea when a passing combination with Taylon enabled him to hit a low drive that was saved by the goalkeeper.
Nonetheless, Martinelli could do noting on Piciollo’s effort on the 10th minute when he concluded a curling effort past the Senglea’s goalkeeper.
Senglea’s reaction came swiftly through Kevaughn Atkinson who forced Henry Bonello into action. However, that was the only time the Cottonera-based knocked on Valletta’s door as the Lilywhites continued to dominate proceedings.
Efforts from Piciollo and Taylon were all in vain as Valletta failed to make their pressure count.
All the missed chances came back to haunt Valletta when Atkinson beat the offside trap to latch onto a delightful Firaz Aboulezz ball, drifted towards Bonello to fire home
Despite the shocking equaliser, Valletta maintained the same intensity in the second half and it took them just 10 minutes to regain the lead through a Mario Fontanella’s curling effort, for his first goal of the season.
Martinelli denied Valletta on a couple of occasions as the Lilywhites piled up the pressure on Senglea.
First, Rowen Muscat let fly an effort from long-range before the rebound dropped onto the feet of substitute Shawn Dimech who was not clinical enough to put the game beyond doubt.
Zerafa’s team remained in control of the game as they managed to keep Senglea at bay and record their third win of the campaign.