TARXIEN RAINBOWS 0
Montebello 47, 75; Falcone 68
D. Fernandes-5, E. Bilbao Zarate-6.5 (61 K. Attard), D. Falzon-6, M. Spiteri-6, V. Plut-6.5, J. Debono-6 (77 C. Zahra), L. Sciberras-5.5, I. Paz-5, K. Gatt-5, R. Kooh Sohna-5, C. Escobar-6.
S. Guarnone-6, E. Pepe-5.5, Y. Yankam-5.5, L. Montebello-6.5, P. Mbong-5 (82 I. Ntow), K. Zammit-5, R. Alidor-6, F. Verde-5 (46 F. Falcone-7), C. Attard-5, C. Prado-5.5, O. Carniello-5.
Referee: Slobodan Petrovic.
Yellow cards: Bilbao Zarate, Pepe.
BOV player of the match: Vito Plut (Tarxien Rainbows)
Birkirkara’s ascendancy over Tarxien Rainbows was beyond question but the Stripes had to wait until the second half to lower the colours of the relegation strugglers.
A goal soon after ends were changed gave Birkirkara the lead and that signalled the Rainbows’ capitulation, despite a couple of flurries they had in attacking situation.
Stephen D’Amato fielded an ultra-cautious formation with five defenders and Edison Bilbao Zarate detailed to offer further cover to the defence in a 5-4-1 set-up.
Up front, Tarxien relied on Vito Plut’s pace to run on to long balls and bypass Birkirkara’s midfield.
Anticipating the Rainbows’ defensive gameplan, André Paus opted for a three-man defence with Francesco Verde, Oscar Carniello and Enrico Pepe at the back with Cain Attard and Kurt Zammit deployed as flying wingbacks.
But Birkirkara struggled to open up their lowly-placed opponents in the opening half.
Luke Montebello shot straight at Daniel Fernandes from a free-kick but his effort was too weak to trouble the experienced Portuguese goalkeeper.
A header by Enrico Pepe from a corner flew well wide before half-time to testify their mounting frustration.
Tarxien stifled their opponents while looking to push forward as often as possible.
The former Birkirkara midfielder Luke Sciberras made a surging run on the right flank but could not pick out a team-mate.
Paus introduced Federico Falcone at half-time as Birkirkara switched back to a four-man defence.
The move paid dividends as, two minutes into the second half, Jurgen Debono looked to have cleared any danger when dispossessing Montebello but the Tarxien defender inadvertenty hit the ball again into the path of the striker as he stole in to hit a low shot past Fernandes.
Tarxien began to play with an increased sense of urgency and almost equalised.
Plut’s pace took him past the Birkirkara defenders, who were caught with their backs to goal, before he squared the ball to the advancing Kooh Sohna who threw a dummy pass but no player followed his move and the chance went abegging.
But on 68 minutes, Birkirkara doubled their lead. Falcone, after latching onto Caio’s pass, slid his shot past Fernandes.
The Stripes hit the Rainbows on the break again.
Paul Mbong floated a ball at the edge of the Rainbows’ penalty area. The ball dropped to Montebello who shrugged off Sciberras before shooting across Fernandes and into the net.