TARXIEN RAINBOWS 2
Kooh Sohna 38, Falzon 90
Paiber 33, 44
D. Fernandes-6, C. Conceicao-7, B. Muscat-5, E. Zarate Bilbao-6.5, D. Zerafa-5.5, J. Debono-6 (86 L. Sciberras), E. Rosado-6, E. Ssekisambu-5 (64 D. Falzon-6), I. Paz-6.5, K. Gatt-6, R. Kooh Sohna-6.
I. Akpan-5, B. Moustapha-6, E. Ruiz-6 (46 J. Busuttil-6), D. Venancio-5.5, N- Leone-5, K. Keqi-4, J. Arias-6, B. Paiber-7 (85 S. Arab), A. Cini-5, F. Cheveresan-6, R. Camenzuli-5.5.
Referee: Alex Johnson.
Yellow card: Cheveresan, Conceicao, Keqi, Zarate Bilbao, Leone.
BOV player of the match: Brandon Paiber (Floriana).
Champions Floriana slithered and dithered once again when they lost two valuable points at the expense of an organised Tarxien Rainbows in Wednesday’s match at the Centenary Stadium.
Thus, Floriana have lost further ground in their bid to keep in touch with the top teams and unless they roll up their sleeves they will have a mountain to climb to at least compete for a berth in European football next season.
Tarxien’s latest recruits, Raphael Kooh Sohna, Erisa Ssekisambu and Ivan Paz were all named in Winston Muscat’s starting line-up.
John Buttigieg’s starting XI featured four changes from their lame showing against Żejtun. Marcelo Dias, Tiago Fonseca, Matias Garcia and Jan Busuttil were all dropped. They were replaced by Nicola Leone, José Ulises, Flavio Cheveresan and Ryan Camenzuli.
Floriana enjoyed the bulk of possession and were constantly applying the pressure against a thick Tarxien midfield which supplemented their unyielding defensive wall in front of an agile Daniel Fernandes.
The Greens had Brandon Paiber and José Ulises trying incessantly to filter through but by and large there was little co-ordination in their movement.
Tarxien, mainly through their schemer Edison Zarate Bilbao, tried hard to keep possession, at times, managing to emerge from their half confidently with the ball.
An early Paiber shot was saved excellently by Fernandes. Floriana’s mobility kept Tarxien pegged back in their own half even if clear chances were few.
Ini Akpan was called on 16 minutes when he palmed away a cross-shot by Kyle Gatt.
Floriana drew rewards for their efforts on 33 minutes when Diego Venancio served a square ball for Paiber who rocketed a drive in the low corner.
Five minutes later, Tarxien levelled. Raphael Kooh Sohna standing at the far post, met a deep cross by Ivan Paz before planting a header behind Akpan.
But Tarxien’s joy was short-lived and as a minute from the break, Paiber’s opportunism came in useful when he dashed into the box to prod the ball towards the far corner of the net off Ulises’s excellent cross.
Just before half-time, ill-luck stood between Tarxien and a second goal when the valid Jurgen Debono hit the crossbar before the ball glanced out.
On the change of ends, Tarxien ventured forward in search of an equaliser. Kooh Sohna went near after which Akpan was called to tip a Paz effort to corner.
Tarxien plucked up courage even when Akpan denied them the equaliser with a brilliant save with the aid of the crossbar from Carlos Filho Conceicao’s point-blank effort.
But their efforts were rewarded at the death when substitute Daren Falzon delivered a trademark swerving free-kick past the goalkeeper to earn his team a point.