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Floriana, Balzan fire blanks in nervy contest

FLORIANA   0

BALZAN        0

FLORIANA
I. Akpan-6.5; E. Ruiz-5; D. Venancio-6; K. Keqi-5; U. Arias-6.5 (87 A. Cini); J. Pisani-6; M. Garcia-5.5; Flavio-5 (83 S. Arab); M. Dias-5.5; J. Busuttil-6.5; R. Camenzuli-6.
BALZAN
V. Vranes-6.5; A. Loof-6.5; M. Grima-5; S. Arab-5; M. Duric-6.5; P. Fenech-6; M. Johnson-6; M. Sanoh-6 (67 A. Effiong); A. Andrejic-6 (79 Weverton); S. Cipriott-6.
Referee Fyodor Zammit.

Yellow cards Cipriott, Fenech, Garcia, Camenzuli.

BOV Player of the Match Milan Duric (Balzan).

Floriana and Balzan cancelled each other in a goalless stalemate as both teams are looking to ease their relegation worries.

The Greens remain ninth on 27 points, just two places away from the play-out spot whereas Balzan moved to 24 points, in 11th place. Yet, while Floriana have played 23 games, the Reds have a game in hand which leaves the relegation battle wide open.

Despite what was at stake for them, both Floriana and Balzan were looking to impose their game without any particular rush.

It turned out to be an end-to-end first 45 minutes, with Balzan having more of the ball even though they never really threatened Floriana goalkeeper Ini Akpan.

Balzan’s most in-form player right now, Aleksa Andrejic, knocked on Akpan’s door twice with a couple of quick shots that did not pay dividends.

At the other end, Floriana’s first chance came after 15 minutes with a long-range effort from Matias Garcia that forced Vukasin Vranjes into action.

In the closing stages of the first half, Floriana’s Diego Venancio and Andrejic of Balzan tried to break the deadlock with an attempt each but it was in vain as the goalless stalemate prevailed after the opening 45 minutes.

Former A-League player Milan Duric had an effort on goal blocked by Akpan as Balzan had the brightest start in the second half.

While Balzan coach Mark Miller inserted veteran forward Alfred Effiong for Moussa Sanoh, it was Serbian midfielder Duric who once again threatened Akpan with a free-kick that the Floriana goalkeeper diverted into corner.

Floriana’s defensive compactness was denying Balzan any clear-cut chances as the Reds were banking on their shooting options, with Uros Ljubomirac firing a first-timer from the edge of the area that sailed over the bar.

Yet, it was Floriana who almost forged ahead against the run of play when Jurgen Pisani met a brilliant Diego Venancio cross just to see his effort go inches wide.

Weverton was Balzan’s second change as Miller reshuffled the offensive line, maintaing the starting 4-2-3-1 shape.

Coach Potenza, on his part, made his first change seven minutes from time when Siraj Arab came on the pitch as he squared off with brother Samir, who was a starter for Balzan.

As the final whistle was closing in, the teams become much more stretched as they were looking for the all-important goal, but in the end the stalemate prevailed.

Standings provided by SofaScore LiveScore

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