SLIEMA WANDERERS 0
M. Calleja Cremona-6.5, F. Apap-6, L. Almeida-6, A. Attard-5.5, J. Grech-6.5, J. Degabriele-6 (88 J. Wilkson), B. Kristensen-6 (63 S. Shodiya), D. Vella-6.5, G. Izquier-6, A. Agius-6.5, I. Iriberri-5.5.
J. Galea-6, A. Satariano-5.5 (63 R. Kakinuma), K. Shaw-5.5, A. Milesi-6, J. Mintoff-6 (75 D. Vukovic), J. Cisotti-6.5, D. Pereira (26 E. Agius-6), R. Kisil-6 (74 G. Ribeiro), G. Aquilina-5.5, J.P. Farrugia-5.5, M. Beerman-6.
Referee: Ishmael Barbara.
Yellow Cards: G. Aquilina, K. Shaw, A. Milesi, A. Agius, A. Attard.
BOV Player of the Match: Andrei Agius (Hibernians).
Hibernians kept the pace with leaders Ħamrun Spartans thanks to a narrow win over Sliema Wanderers in a direct clash between two of the main challengers for the title.
With this win, Stefano Sanderra’s side moved just two points behind the Spartans while enabling the Paolites to move four points clear of Sliema Wanderers who are now joined by Gżira United in third place.
While Hibernians have registered their third win on the trot, this second consecutive defeat for the team led by Andrea Pisanu leaves them six points adrift of Ħamrun.
Following the defeat to Mosta, the Wanderers had three changes with Alex Satariano, Ruslan Kisil and Denilson replacing Gilmar, Edmond Agius and the suspended Oscar Linton.
On the other hand, Denilson had to abandon the match mid-way through the first half and was replaced by Agius.
Hibernians, on the other hand, had Imanol Iriberri making his return after re-joining the club from Ħamrun Spartans. The Argentine striker replaced Jose Wilkson Teixeira while Gabi Izquier was preferred to Shola Shodiya.
The Paolites went in search of an early goal, going close after just three minutes when Dunstan Galea served Jurgen Degabriele on the left and the latter rounded a defender before hitting low but his shot was neutralised by Jake Galea.
On 11 minutes, Leandro Almeida hit the crossbar with a header following a Degabriele freekick from the right, the ball bouncing beyond the goal line before Galea managed to grab the ball.
Referee Ishmael Barbara waved play on despite the fact that the goal seemed to be legitimate.
Sliema started to gain more confidence and Juri Cisotti tested Calleja Cremona with a header on 28 minutes and six minutes later, the Italian winger had a shot from outside the area neutralised by the Hibs goalkeeper.
Calleja Cremona blocked a direct free-kick by Cisotti five minutes from the end of the first half and two minutes later, the Malta custodian performed another good save, this time on Jean Paul Farrugia from the edge of the area.
Nine minutes in the second half, Andrei Agius had a free-kick parried by Jake Galea.
But the Malta defender made amends seconds later, when off an assist by Jake Grech, Agius exchanged the ball with Dunstan Vella and the veteran defender hit a low shot who had the better of the Sliema goalkeeper who could only deflect the ball into the net.
Although the Wanderers enjoyed more possession, it was only in the final stages that Sliema threatened the Hibs rearguard in their bid to level matters.
Six minutes from time, Edmond Agius tried his luck with a shot from outside the area which was parried by Calleja Cremona and in stoppage time, another Agius effort was neutralised by the Hibs goalkeeper.