STA LUCIA 1
Floriana: I. Akpan-7, E. Ruiz-6, D. Venancio-5.5, K. Keqi-6, J. Pisani-5.5, M. Garcia-5, M. Dias-5.5, J. Busuttil-6, J. Lombe-5 (77 D. Agius), A. Louzada-6 (83 S. Arab), R. Camenzuli-5.
Sta Lucia: M. Montfort-6, T. Tabone Desira-6, A. Prates-6, E. Uzeh-6, K. Correia-5.5, A. Magri Overand-6.5, L. Motta-5.5 (61 N. Pulis), Alan-7.5, K. Rosero-7, J. Zerafa-5, A. Caseres-6.
Referee: Alex Johnson
Yellow Cards: Keqi, Ruiz, Rosero, Edafe, Caseres, Dias,
BOV player of the match: Alan Souza da Silva (Floriana)
Floriana held on for a draw against Sta Lucia to win their first point in three games as a first win still eludes their coach John Buttiġieġ after seven matches in charge of the Greens.
The first half was particularly outstanding with numerous chances at both ends, testing the ability of the goalkeepers Ini Akpan and Miguel Montfort.
Completely against the run of play, Adriano Louzada gave Floriana the lead. Frustratingly before the Brazilian’s goal, Apkan had been the busiest of the two goalkeepers. Sta Lucia, who lost to a last-minute goal against Sliema last week, equalised in the second half through Kevin Ante Rosero served by the irrepressible Alan da Silva Souza and as the match wore on, the Saints seemed the more likely winners.
Buttiġieġ rang the changes in the wake of the upset to Sirens. Goalkeeper Akpan, Matias Garcia, Marcelo Dias, Jan Busuttil were all roped in as Adriano Louzada was given his debut.
Buttiġieġ opted for a diamond-shaped midfield that placed Matias Garcia at the top and Diego Venancio in the holding role.
Suspension deprived Sta Lucia coach Oliver Spiteri of Victor Filho while Rei Tachikawa was absent through injury. Adam Magri Overand was dropped back to fill in the boots of Filho at left-back.
The Saints’ flexibile 4-2-3-1 set-up had Leandro Motta, Alan and Kevin Roseri constantly flitting into the space in support of the former Floriana striker Augusto Caseres.
Alan was instrumental in a first half an hour dominated by Sta Lucia. Caseres headed wide when unmarked from the Brazilian’s cross and minutes later, Floriana somehow survived a goalmouth scramble that saw Jurgen Pisani clear off the line from Kevin Rosero.
In the 29th minute, Alan’s enterprise once more threatened danger. His cross was met by Caseres, whose point-blank header was somehow blocked by Akpan. The rebound fell perfectly for Alan but Akpan arched backwards to tip the Brazilian’s header over the bar.
On the other side, the ball was quickly transferred upfront as Dias ran to a long punt from Keqi and did brilliantly to send in a cross from the right flank, and Louzada stole in at the other end to send a powerful header past Miguel Montfort.
Sta Lucia were in the ascendancy again and two minutes into the second half, Alan swung in a free-kick onto the head of the Rosero who glanced his header past Akpan but the ball hit the bar and bounced back down into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Past the hour mark, Alan glanced a 20-metre free-kick towards the top corner but it took another smart save from Akpan to deny him.
Sta Lucia were a team transformed, and Rosero put them level after 66 minutes. Timothy Tabone Desira send in a cross from the right flank, and the Colombian striker headed past Akpan.
The two combined again on 70 minutes in a lovely triangulation down the right to work an opening for Caseres who slid the ball just wide.
Alan could have won the game for Sta Lucia at the death but his free-kick was easily saved by Akpan.