Maxuell 37, 45
TARXIEN RAINBOWS 2
Plut 4, 80
D. Cassar-6, J. Pearson-6, R. Grech-5, Maxuell-7.5, W. Domoraud-5.5, A. Borg-5, S. Tounkara-5 (54 J. Walker), T. Agius-6, R. Romao-4, R. Menezes-5.5 (64 A. Bustos), T. Espindola-5.5 (83 M. Mifsud).
D. Marcio-6, A. Carneiro-5.5, B. Muscat-5 (90 Y. Omuro), M. Spiteri-5, V. Plut-7, J. Debono-6.5, Vanger-6.5, E. Rosado-6, K. Gatt-5 (70 D. Falzon), M. Tabone-6.5, M. Miranda-6.
Referee: Daniel Portelli.
Yellow cards: Borg, Fernandes, Plut, Domoraud.
BOV player of the match: Maxuell Maia da Silva (Sirens).
A clash against a Tarxien Rainbows side still licking their wounds after their drubbing at the hands of Gudja United, always presented a difficult hurdle but Sirens also had to put up with four weeks of inactivity.
For this reason, Sirens won the admiration of those present at the Centenary Stadium after a plucky display which could have earned them their first win of the season.
It was Sirens’ first match in more than four weeks because it had to postponed as at least two players from the St Paul’s Bay side were tested positive for COVID-19.
Steve D’Amato left Angel Bustos and Ryan Scicluna on the bench and restored Adrian Borg in the starting formation to form a central defence partnership with Jonathan Pearson at the heart of the Sirens defence.
Michael Mifsud, who will play his last match for the national team next Wednesday against Liechtenstein, started on the bench.
Winston Muscat made two changes in the wake of the upset to neighbours Gudja United. One of the alterations was enforced upon the team by the injury of Daniel Zerafa while Karl Pulo was among the substitutes. Skipper Matthew Tabone and Kyle Gatt were named in the first team.
The Rainbows were given the best possible start when Vanger Conceicao da Silva released Vito Plut, who flicked a delicate finish beyond David Cassar.
It was unsurprisingly lacklustre opening half from Sirens who looked rusty after four weeks of enforced break and they could count themselves fortunate not to go two goals down.
Jurgen Debono almost doubled Tarxien’s advantage on 24 minutes after a close shot which forced the overworked Cassar to dive full length to save.
Tarxien’s main threat was coming Vanger’s thrilling run on the left.
But with one goal separating the teams, Tarxien were not comfortable and Romario Menezes’s protests were waved away by referee Daniel Portelli after the Brazilian midfielder’s attempt appeared to come off Gatt’s hand.
But Sirens soon found the net with a sublime goal by Maxuell. The Brazilian controlled a cross-field ball with his thigh, showing incredible technique, before a deft second touch and pinpoint finish.
The goal galvanised the former Sta Lucia midfielder and Terence Agius’s trademark corner was met by the Brazilian’s header to put Sirens ahead before half-time.
As the two teams were heading for the dressing room at half-time, D’Amato ordered his team back on the pitch as they formed a circle around their coach to listen to the half-time talk in the open air.
Tarxien went all out for an equaliser after the break and Sirens were relieved to see a 20-metre shot by Debono hit the woodwork.
The Rainbows were even more frustrated on 52 minutes when Plut saw his goalbound header blocked by Cassar.
On 69 minutes, Sirens almost punished their flat-out approach with a quick counter-attack when substitute Jacob Walker advanced towards the Tarxien goal before passing for Wilfried Domoraud but his close-range shot was dealt with by the alert Daniel Fernandes.
Tarxien had been a side transformed after the break and Plut could not been denied ten minutes from time when Spiteri played the Slovenian player through and the in-form striker slotted the ball home.
D’Amato reacted by throwing on Mifsud in place of Maxuell to instantly change his mind and with the substitutions’ board already showing Maxuell’s number 10, he withdrew Thiago Espindola instead.
Sirens tried to force a winner, but it was to no avail.