LIJA ATHLETIC 2
Beu 41, 66
ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 2
Djordjevic 45; Mbong 48
L. Bonnici-6, C. Cassar-6 (72 C. Giordimaina), L. Muscat-6, I. Borg-6, D. Scerri-6.5, E. Beu-8, C. Flores-6 (66 V. Alhinho), F. Brandan-6, H. Wood-6.5 (86 N. Micallef), M. Jimenez-5, J. Cruz Gill-5.
E. Bartolo-5, D. Gojkovic-5, M. Guillaumier-5.5, J. Mbong-6, J. Ailton Soares-6.5, F. Sasere-6 (58 M. Barbosa-5), E. Serrano Valero-5, J. Corbalan-6, P. Djordjevic-6, K. Micallef-6, E. Marcelina-6 (68 I. Adeshina).
Referee: Slobodan Petrovic.
Yellow cards Jimenez, Bonnici, Guillaumier, Scerri.
BOV Player of the Match Erjon Beu (Lija Athletic).
Ħamrun Spartans missed the chance of taking sole leadership in the BOV Premier League when they could not go beyond a 2-2 draw against lowly Lija Athletic at the Centenary Stadium.
This was a disappointing result for the ambitious Spartans who held control of the match for long stretches but they were let down by some lapses in concentration in defence for which they were soundly punished Lija’s talisman Erjon Beu.
In fact, the Albanian forward profited from some lax marking by the Reds to put his team ahead late in the first half.
The Spartans’ response was strong and managed to overturn the result with two well-taken goals, one just before half-time and the other just after restart.
However, Lija were handed a way back into the match midway through the second half when Beu profited from a poor clearance by goalkeeper Bartolo hit a beauty into the top corner that earned his team a deserved point.
The Spartans surely left the Centenary Stadium disappointed with their performance that yieled just a point that lifted them level with leaders Sliema Wanderers on 19 points, albeit the latter can take sole leadership today with victory over Żejtun Corinthians.
As expected it was the Spartans who held control of proceedings in the first half as they dominated possession with Lija Athletic happy to soak up the pressure and try and catch their opponetents with swift counter attacks on their chief goalscorer Erjon Beu.
The Spartans almost stormed ahead after five minutes of playe when Karl Micallef sped clear on the right and picked Predrag Djordjevic inside the area but the Serbian saw his header coming off the bar.
The Reds remained on top but for all their possession they struggled to create openings in the Lija defence. In fact, they had to wait until the half hour, when Mbong put Djordjevic clear but the Serbian was denied by the onrushing Luke Bonnici.
Lija finally threatened five minutes from the break when in a swift break Beu hit a thumping drive that was saved by Manuel Bartolo.
The Albanian forward, however, made amends a minute before the break when he was well served by Carlos Flores and this time he beat Bartolo with a firm drive.
However, Lija’s joy was shortlived as a minute later, Ħamrun equalised. Jorge Ailton Soares chipped the ball into the path of Djordjevic who blasted the ball past Bonnici.
After the restart, the Spartans kept their ascendancy and in their first attack they took the lead. Ailton Soares picked Mbong at the far post and the Malta midfielder directed the ball into the top corner of the net.
Here, one thought that the Reds would go on and put the game beyond Lija’s reach.
However, on 62 minutes Lija grabbed the equaliser. Beu again was the catalyst when he intercepted Bartolo’s clear and let fly a thumping drive that flew into the top corner of the net.
Ħamrun now tried to step up the pressure in search of a winner and on 77 minutes Ige Adeshina picked fellow substitute Marcelo Barbosa but the Brazilian headed just over.