Wilkson 29; Grech 77pen
ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 2
Sasere 20, Soares 22
M. Calleja Cremona-5, L. Almeida-6, J. Grech-6.5, J. Degabriele-6 (87 R. Winchester), B. Kristensen-, D. Vella-5, Z. Grech-5 (52 K. Laukzemis-5), G. Izquier-6, H. Shodiya-5 (75 A. Attard), A. Agius-6, J. Wilkson-6.5 (87 M. Ellul).
E. Bartolo-6, D. Gojkovic-6, M. Guillaumier-7, J. Mbong-5, J. Soares-7, F. Sasere-6 (72 M. Barbosa), I. Adeshina-6 (67 A. Oyama), J. Corbalan-6, P. Djordjevic-6, K. Micallef-6, E. Marcelina-5.5
Referee: Glen Tonna.
Yellow cards: Grech, Vella, Kristensen, Guillaumier.
Red card: Kristensen (H) 90.
BOV player of the match: Jurgen Degabriele (Hibs).
Former Ħamrun midfielder Jake Grech struck a late equaliser as Hibernians came back from 2-0 down to snatch a point against the Spartans and go top spot in the Premier League standings.
Stefano Sanderra’s side coped well after being dealt a double-blow after conceding two goals in the space ofthree minutes. Wilkson pulled one back with a crisp finish before Grech made no mistake from the spot to ensure the Paolites moved on top with 17 points, level with Gżira United.
It took the Spartans just three munutes to muster their first attempt at goal, with Predrag Djordjevic hitting a fierce shot but was was denied by a fine Matthew Calleja Cremona save.
Hibs were then left reeling by a double blow.
On 20 minutes, Jorge Soares sent a precise ball over the Paolites’ defensive line and Franklin Sasere ran through to reach the ball before beating Calleja Cremona with a low drive.
Barely two minutes later, the Cape Verde striker turned from provider to scorer when he outpaced Zachary Grech on left flank before curling the ball into the top corner of the net – 2-0.
Hibs struggled to string a worthwhile move together but Josè Wilkson warmed to the challenge and shy the half hour mark, struck an unstoppable left-footed free-kick which flew into the top corner.
Two minutes from half-time, Bjorn Kristensen was desperately unlucky to see a superb 20-metre shot bounce off the crossbar, but Jake Grech reacted quickest only to head the ball straight at Emmanuel Bartolo’s hands.
The entertainment level and the goals were set to continue after the break but the rain-soaked pitch did not make things easy for both teams.
Stefano Sanderra restored to his first substitition when striker Karolis Laukzemis replaced Zachary Grech, in a bid to add new fresh legs upfront.
The Lithunian striker, fresh from his national team commitment against Kazakhstan, was deployed in front of an attacking trio of Jurgen Degabriele, Wilkson and Grech.
Gabriel Izquier came to his side’s rescue on 65 minutes when he headed the ball away as Soares’s cross sought out Sasere.
Moments later, Hibs had a glorious chance to get back on level terms when Izquier’s free-kick from the right, was flicked by Kristensen into the path of Degabriele at the far but the nippy striker was late in his bid to connect to the ball.
It was too brief a reprieve.
On 77 minutes, Hibs were given a penalty after Joseph Mbong brought down Andrei Agius inside the box from a corner action. Grech made no mistake from the spot, sending Bartolo the wrong way.
Four minutes from time, subsitute Arthur Oyama’s long punt found Emerson Marcelina in the box but the Brazilian defender incredibly blasted wide in front of a gaping goal.
At death, Kristensen was given the marching orders for a crude tackle on Marcelina which earned him a second yellow card.