ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 2
Soares 63 pen.
M. Jovicic-6.5, R. Briffa-6.5, C. Ememe-6, C. Failla-5.5, J. Nsumoh-6.5 (76 W. Donkin), S. Akinbule-7, T. Farrugia-6, I. Doric-5.5, M. Hetemaj-5.5 (77 L. Igbineweka), Z. Brincat-6 (58 M. Mifsud), J. Enaki-6.
H. Bonello-5.5, D. Gojkovic-7, J. Mbong-6, J. Soares-7 (85 A. Oyama), F. Sasere-6, I. Ntow-5.5, L. Gambin-8. J. Corbalan-7, K. Micallef-5.5 (69 S. Lagzir), C. Dielna-7, E. Marcelina-7.5.
Referee Ishmael Barbara.
Yellow cards Farrugia, Igbineweka, Akinbule, Dielna, Ememe, Sasere, Rodrigue, Marcelina.
Player of the match: Luke Gambin (Ħamrun Spartans).
Ħamrun Spartans recovered from a shaky start to record their first Premier League win of the season when they battled past Mosta at the Hibs Stadium.
It was a hard-fought victory for the Spartans who were desperate for the three points after losing their opening two matches of the campaign.
Things looked gloom when they found themselves behind after a calamitous own goal from Karl Micallef but their battling qualities emerged as goals from Luke Gambin and a Jorge Soares penalty earned the champions their first win of the season.
Ħamrun Spartans coach Mark Buttigieg had two debutants in his starting formation as Malta midfielder Luke Gambin and Isaac Ntow made their first appearance for the Reds since their move in the summer transfer window.
Mosta too had three players who were playing for them for the first time as goalkeeper Marko Jovicic, wing back Roderick Briffa and striker Sunday Akinbule were all named in the team’s starting XI.
The Spartans came into the match under a lot of pressure after losing both their opening two matches of the season against Valletta and Birkirkara with an identical 2-1 scoreline.
And things didn’t look good against Mosta either when they found themselves behind after 11 minutes after committing an own goal in comical circumstances.
Karl Micallef sent a backpass towards goalkeeper Henry Bonello who failed to control the ball which trickled into the back of the net.
But the Spartans hit back strongly and a minute later Gambin made space for himself on the edge of the area and beat Jovicic with a firm low strike.
Mosta came close again on 28 minutes when Akinbule raced clear bu his shot lacked power to threaten Bonello.
Jovicic came to Mosta’s rescue on the half hour mark when Soares raced clear on the right and his cross was deflected in the path of Gambin who was denied by the Blues goalkepeer.
At the other end, Bonello did well to tip over Briffa’s shot from the edge of the area.
The Spartans started strong in the second half and Marcelina picked Soares on the right who sped inside the area but his shot was saved by Jovicic.
On 56 minutes Sasere sprinted clear on the right before serving Gambin on the edge of the area but his shot flashed just wide.
Seven minutes later, the Spartans took the lead when Soares was upended inside the area by Ekani with the referee pointing to the spot. The Cape Verde striker picked himself up to beat Jovicic with an audacius chip.
Mosta tried to respond and a minute later Ekani fired wide from close in.
Bonello came to the Spartans rescue when he somehow kept out Akinbule’s cross-range shot on 68 minutes.
Mosta started to pile up the pressure and Bonello did well to keep out Akinbule’s shot.
At the other end, Soares was again in space but he fired wide as the Spartans held on for the win.