ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 1
ĦAMRUN SPARTANS: H. Bonello-6; D. Gojkovic-6; M. Guillaumier-6; J. Mbong-6; A. Oyama-6; L. Gambin-6 (77 F. Sasere); J. Corbalan-6; I. Ntow-6; C. Dielna-6; E. Marcelina-6; F. El Bakhtaoui-6.5
SIRENS: J. Debono-6.5; A. Blanco-6; B. Gavrila-6 (71 C. Borg); F. Brandan-6; A. Effiong-6 (64 F. Avoce); D. Albanese-6; A. Borg-6; J. Walker-6; C. Zammit Lonardelli-6; C. Riascos-6, V. Vieira-6.
Referee Matthew De Gabriele.
Yellow cards Brandan, Dielna, Borg, Albanese.
BOV Player of the Match Jonathan Debono (Sirens).
A second-half goal by Joseph Mbong was enough for Ħamrun Spartans to put daylight between them and Sirens in the Premier League.
Heading into this game, the defending champions were sixth on nine points but have now reached the 12-point mark, leapfrogging Sirens who were third on 11 points before this encounter.
This was a much-needed victory for the Spartans to keep their hopes of defending last year’s title on track, especially since they will clash with Hibernians immediately after the international window.
For this game, Ħamrun’s coach Mark Buttigieg deployed Henry Bonello in goal who is returning from an injury he suffered during Cyprus vs Malta.
Matthew Guillaumier was given the nod to start for a second successive time this season, leading his side with the captain’s armband.
Sirens, on their part, were at the back of a 3-2 win over Birkirkara but failed to emulate that result as they lost their third game of the season. They meet Paul Zammit’s Balzan in their next league commitment.
Coach Winston Muscat had Adrian Borg captaining the side at the heart of the backline in front of an inspired Jonathan Debono whose saves earned him the Man of the Match award.
Experienced players Bogdan Gavrila, Fernando Brandan, and Alfred Effiong were also part of the starting formation.
Ħamrun Spartans registered their first noteworthy action on the 12th minute when Darko Gojkovic threatened Sirens with a header following a set-piece situation, just to see his effort go in vain.
Mark Buttigieg’s side remained on the forefront and they had another goalscoring opportunity through Isaac Ntow just for Jonathan Debono to deny him.
Faissal El Bakhtaoui had a close-range header that was once again blocked by Sirens’ goalkeeper Debono who was keeping Ħamrun’s chances at bay.
Moments later, the former Scotland Premiership player had another attempt but once again, could not beat Debono as the opening 45 minutes ended in a goalless stalemate.
At the restart, the Spartans continued to push for the goal, and this time it was Luke Gambin’s turn to try his luck, forcing Debono into another save to rescue his team.
Nonetheless, the Sirens goalkeeper could do nothing when Malta international wingback Joseph Mbong entered into the box and struck a shot to put the Spartans ahead to the delight of the supporters.
As time went by, chances were at a premium with the Spartans creating the best chances as they could have wrapped up the game four minutes from time when Arthur Oyama struck a well-taken free-kick from the edge of the area but his effort sailed over the bar.
While Sirens were trying to stage a late reaction in an attempt to rescue a draw, they could not break down Ħamrun’s backline as the Spartans claimed three precious points.