ŻEJTUN CORINTHIANS 2
Carabott 25, de Fex 60
SLIEMA WANDERERS 4
Cisotti 8, Gilmar 33, Bethancourt 69, Shaw 84
Żejtun Corinthians: I. Kone, L. Moreira-5, A.Carabott-7 (80 C. Cassar), K. Reid-5, M. Muniz-6 (75 D. Agius), C.Grech-5.5, V. Vieira-5, E. Herrera-5 (75 G.Bugeja), N. Tabone-6, R. De Fex-6 ( 75G. Azzopardi), A. De Barros-6.
Sliema Wanderers: J. Galea-6, K. Shaw-6.5, Gilmar-7 (87 A. Milesi), J. Cisotti-6.5, Denilson-5.5 (87 A. Satarino), G.Aquilina-5.5 (79 E. Agius), R. Kakinuma-6.5 (80 J.Mintoff), O. Bethancourt-6.5, JP. Farrugia-5 (68 S. Comvalius-), M. Beerman-5, D. Vukovic-5.
Referee: Alex Johnson.
Yellow cards: Beerman, de Fex, Muniz, Denilson, Grech, Reid,
BOV player of the match: Adrian Carabott (Żejtun Corinthians)
Red card: Ibrahim Kone (Żejtun Corinthians) 78
Sliema Wanderers had to battle hard to beat Żejtun and move two points clear in the title race.
The former Sliema midfielder Orosco Anonam, now coach of Żejtun, rung the changes – making no fewer than six alterations to his line-up following his team’s toothless display against Ħamrun Spartans.
The Blues made only a change to the side that beat Lija Athletic 4-1 with former Arsenal midfielder Denilson making his full debut.
Sliema made a perfect start when Riki Kakinuma crossed for Juri Cisotti to head home at the far post.
However, on 25 minutes the Corinthians were level when Marcelo Muniz rose highest to head a loose ball into the box, the veteran Adrian Carabott latched onto it, and charged towards Jake Galea’s goal before slipping the ball past the Sliema goalkeeper.
Sliema quickly resumed their offensive and Cisotti picked out Jean Paul Farrugia with a low cross. Farrugia side-footed the ball but his effort rebounded off the post.
But Żejtun’s defensive frailties were exposed again past the half hour mark as Gilmar converted from close range with a firm strike after Kurt Shaw’s shot was blocked by the defence.
After the break, Sliema quickly resumed their offensive. In Cisotti, they have a potent weapon when shooting from distance and it took an amazing save from Ibrahim Kone to prevent the Italian midfielder from scoring again.
But out of the blue – the ranked mass of green that had been Żejtun’s defence – came out on quick counter-attack and it was a lethal one.
On the hour mark, the Sliema bench were left fuming at referee Alex Johnson after their side were caught napping when Rafael de Fex beat the offside trap, moved into the box to give Carabott the easiest of tap ins.
But a great Oscor Bethancourt goal helped settle Sliema’s nerves nine minutes later. The Panama striker hit an unstoppable first-timer into the top corner of the net from corner.
Worse was to come for Żejtun on 78 minutes as Kakinuma touched the ball past the onrushing Kone, brought him crashing down and was sent off.
The evening’s drama had not finished as Gilmar delivered a perfect ball from corner towards Kurt Shaw whose header swept past substitute goalkeeper Christian Cassar.