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Stripes, Maroons share spoils in drab encounter

Birkirkara's Federico Falcone tries to hit over Sacha Borg (right). Photo: Stephen Gatt

BIRKIRKARA              1
Alves 84 pen.

GŻIRA UNITED           1

Davis 63 pen.

BIRKIRKARA: A. Guarnone-6; E. Pepe-5; Y. Yankam-5; L. Montebello-6 (88 R. Briffa); K. Zammit-5; Reginald-5; F. Falcone-5; C. Attard-5; C. Bonanni-5 (75 P. Mbong); C. Prado-6 (66 A. Alves); O. Carniello-5.

GŻIRA UNITED: J. Haber-5; G. Bohrer-6; S. Borg-6; M. Davis-6.5; N. Portelli-5; J. Mendoza-5; R. Correa-6.5; S. Borg-5; Jefferson-6; R. Kooh Sohna-6 (71 A. Samb).

Referee: Ishmael Barbara.

Yellow cards: Kooh Sohna, Mendoza, Alves.

BOV Player of the Match: Martin Davis (Gżira United).

A penalty for each team in the second half earned Birkirkara and Gżira United a point each, which leaves both teams unhappy in respect to their season objectives.

This draw leaves Birkirkara in the second half of the championship as they are eighth on 18 points, before they face champions Floriana next week.

Gżira, on their part, missed the chance to keep up with leaders Sliema Wanderers as their gap increases to six points as they sit fourth in the table.

Birkirkara coach Andre Paus deployed Federico Falcone and Luke Montebello upfront while Gżira coach Darren Abdilla made use of striking partner Jefferson and Raphael Kooh Sohna.

Chances were rare in what has been a drab first 45 minutes between these two sides. Gżira threatened first after eight minutes through a Jefferson effort who, however, failed to hit the target from inside the penalty area.

On the 24th minute, the Maroons knocked on Birkirkara’s door once again, this time through a Gabriel Bohrer Mentz’s freekick which was deflected into a corner by the Stripes’ backline.

Moments later, Birkirkara created their first chance of the game when Yannick Yankam darted into the box but goalkeeper Justin Haber denied him from close-range.

Birkirkara had another goalscoring chance through forward Federico Falcone but his towering header sailed over the bar.

In the closing stages of the first half, Ricardo Correa forced Alessandro Guarnone into action as the Birkirkara goalkeeper diverted the Uruguayan’s freekick into a corner.

From the resultant set-piece, Sacha Borg hit the crossbar before Birkirkara cleared the danger away as both teams ended the first 45 minutes in a goalless stalemate.

Immediately after the break, Falcone almost put Birkirkara ahead when he fired a strike from the edge of the area just to see Haber tip the ball over the bar and into a corner kick.

On the hour mark, Raphael Kooh Sohna tried his luck from close-range but goalkeeper Guarnone was alert to avert the danger.

Three minutes later, Gżira forged ahead through a Martin Davis penalty after the Jamaican player was floored by Enrico Pepe to score his fifth goal of the season.

As the half wore on, Birkirkara started to inch their way up the field but it was just six minutes from time when they were given a lifeline after Justin Haber fouled Luke Montebello inside the eighteen.

Substitute Alex Alves transformed the penalty into goal to net his third goal of the season and pull the Stripes level.

The last chance of the game dropped onto the feet of Paul Mbong who darted into the box but his close-range shot was blocked by Haber as both teams had to satisfy themselves with a point each.

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