SLIEMA WANDERERS 2
Holla 24, 84
J. Galea-6, M. Sansone-5 (73 G. Agius), A. Satariano-5, K. Shaw-6.5, A. Milesi-6, J. Cisotti-6.5, Denilson-5 (73 E. Agius), D. Holla-7.5, R. Kisil-6 (46 R. Kakinuma-6), M. Beerman-6 (84 J. Barbosa), D. Vukovic-6.
A. Guarnone-6, L. Montebello-7, P. Mbong-6.5 (75 C. Bonanni), R. Briffa-6, K. Zammit-7, R. Altidor-6, F. Falcone-6 (84 G. Farrugia), F. Verde-6, C. Attard-6.5, Caio-7 (57 Y. Yankam-6), O. Carniello.
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann.
Yellow cards Carniello, Holla, Milesi Falcone.
Red card: Carniello (B) 77.
BOV Player of the match Danny Holla (Sliema Wanderers).
Birkirkara and Sliema Wanderers gave life to a thrilling encounter but had to settle for a point after sharing four goals.
Dubbed as a direct clash in the race for a top-four placing in the BOV Premier League this season, the match swayed towards either side with the Wanderers holding the edge for much of the first half and took the lead through Danny Holla.
But the Stripes gradually came more into the picture and managed to turn the match around iside the first hour of the match and looked firmly in control.
However, Birkirkara’s hopes of victory were dealt a mortal blow when Oscar Carniello was dismissed for a second yellow card. In fact, Sliema made the most of their numerical advantage to snatch a point through the impressive Holla.
The final stalemate surely was greeted with more satisfaction by Birkirkara who preserved fourth place, as they remained one clear of Sliema.
There was little to separate either side in the early exchanges with Sliema Wanderers holding the edge in terms of possession with Birkirkara happy to wait for their opponents to push forward and try and hit them with quick transitions.
The stalemate was broken on 24 minutes when Michele Sansone put Juri Cisotti in space on the right flank and winger quickly sent a low cross towards the sprinting Danny Holla who blasted the ball into net.
However, Birkirkara took just seven minutes to restore equilibrium. From a Cain Attard long throw-in, the Sliema defence failed to clear the ball away and in came Luke Montebello who chested the ball before flicking past goalkeeper Jake Galea.
The match remained evenly balanced with scoring chances few and far between.
Just before the half-time whistle, Roderick Briffa’s inswinger finished over the Sliema goal.
Four minutes into the second half, Birkirkara protested for a penalty when Caio fell inside the area after a challenge from Kurt Shaw but referee Trustin Farrugia Cann waved play on.
But the Brazilian hit back on 53 minutes when he latched onto Montebello’s deflected cross-shot to stab the ball past goalkeeper Galea.
One here expected Sliema to step up their challenge but they looked any sort of lucidity when pushing forward and rarely threatened the Birkirkara goal.
Thirteen minutes from time, Birkirkara suffered a setback when defender Oscar Carniello was shown his second yellow card and was dismissed.
Sliema took little time to make the most of their numerical advantage as six minutes from time they scored the equalizer.
Dejan Vukovic picked Holla on the edge of the area and the Sliema skipper hit a firm drive that had the better of Guarnone.
Birkirkara were unlucky not to win it time added on when Montebello sped past two defenders and hit a rasping drive that came off the bar as the stalemate prevailed.