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Sliema frustrate Gżira United in derby

GZIRA UNITED 1

Jefferson 6

SLIEMA WANDERERS 1

Fernandes 60

GZIRA UNITED: J. Haber-6, G. Bohrer-6, S. Borg-6, N. Muscat-5 (90 C. Gauci), S. Pisani-7, Z. Scerri-5, M. Davis-5, Maxuell-5.5 (79 E. Mbong), T. Espindola-6, Jefferson-6, J. Mendoza-7.

SLIEMA WANDERERS: T. Aquilina-6, C. Flores-4 (46 O. Elouni-6), K. Shaw-7, J. Mintoff-5 (59 D. Vukovic-6), M. Fernandes-6.5 (90 J. Engerer), D. Hola-5.5 (72 E. Agius), V. Berisha-6 (72 R. Kooh Sohna), G. Aquilina-6.5, I. Gui-6, M. Beerman-5, J. Bilek-5.

Referee: Slobodan Petrovic

Yellow cards: Borg, Gui,

BOV Player of the match: Miguel Fernandes (Sliema Wanderers)

Sliema frustrated Gżira United as the Maroons’ winless run continued. They were looking for a massive lift to kick start their season but instead, they drew blank in an opaque display.

The result leaves both sides winless in three games.

Jefferson’s early goal had put Gzira in front, with the forward catching the Sliema defence asleep to race onto Martin Davis’s cross.

That set the tone for what was to follow, with Gżira wasting several good chances to extend their lead before Miguel Fernandes scored an exquisite equaliser.

Encouraged by the direct running of Davis who galloped beyond Julius Bilek early on to give warning of his superior pace, Gżira settled more quickly. Jefferson followed Davis’s lead and enjoyed success when he ran at the Sliema defence.

The Maroons’ strikers combined well after six minutes to penetrate the Sliema goal when the Jamaican striker slipped a through-pass for the Brazilian, whose deft touch turned the ball past Timothy Aquilina.

A few minutes later, Aquilina produced a fine save to tip Gabriel Bohrer’s effort over the bar.

From the ensuing corner, he pulled off another fine stop to deny Steve Borg as Gżira were on top in the opening half an hour as they dominated their neighbours in a high-tempo start.

Sliema rarely threatened unless they were able to smuggle the ball out to Myles Beerman, whose pace proved problematic for makeshift right-back Zachary Scerri.

But Thiago Espindola picked out Maxuell to send a header against the foot of the post.

When Omar Elouni came on for the ineffective Carlos Flores after the break, Sliema improved.

And after being outplayed for an hour, Sliema equalised with a goal of sublime simplicity. Miguel Fernandes collected the ball well outside the Gżira box as he kept his nerve to hit a swerving shot behind Justin Haber.

However, most of the action continued to take place in Sliema’s goal area – and after 73 minutes, Espindola hit a free-kick from outside the area which took an enormous deflection off the Blues’ wall to wrong-foot Aquilina.

The Sliema goalkeeper was relieved to see that the ball hitting the bar.

At the other end, substitute Dejan Vukovic bundled his way into the Maroons’ box but Haber was to equal to his effort to resolve a goalmouth scramble.

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