Akinbule 45, Morisco 69
GŻIRA UNITED 2
Maxuell 23, Bohrer 39 pen.
M. Jovicic-6, R. Briffa-6, W. Donkin-4 (46 J. Nsumoh-7) (90 G. Sciberras), C. Failla-6, J. Bezzina-5 (46 I. Doric-7), M. Hetemej-6, L. Riascos-6, R. Morisco-6, Z. Brincat-6 (73 D. Bonniċi), S. Akinbule-7 (81 M. Mifsud), R. Ekani.
D. Radelic-6, G. Bohrer-6 (90 N. Agius), N. Muscat-5, S. Pisani-6.5, Z. Scerri-5, Y. Messias-6, C. Gauci-5, N. Portelli-5 (76 M. Davis), Maxuell-5.5, Jefferson-5 (70 E. Mbong), J. Mendoza-5.
Referee Mattew de Gabriele.
Yellow cards: Rodriguez, Failla, Hetemaj,
Red card: Ekani (M) 38.
BOV Man of the match: Sunday Akinbule (Mosta).
Mosta survived the first-half dismissal of Rodriguez Ekani to come back from 2-0 down to and hold Gżira United to a draw at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.
It was a remarkable turnaround to a match which for large spells saw Gżira dominate proceedings.
Mosta, by contrast, showed greater desire and were focused on their task to punish the Maroons’ slack defending
True, injury-plagued Gżira United were down to the ‘bare bones’ as Darren Abdilla was forced to name four goalkeepers in the teamsheet to complete the squad.
But the Maroons were off to a blistering start. From the left wing, Jefferson moved goalwards, before striking a typically ferocious shot which was somehow kept out by goalkeeper Mark Jovicic.
A succession of corners followed as the Maroons looked for an early opener.
Just as Gżira looked to be getting a grip on the match, Mosta almost broke the deadlock.
A Clayton Failla corner landed onto the feet of the Luis Riascos at the far end but the Colombian midfielder failed to make a decent contact with the ball.
Sunday Akinbule’s shot was blocked by Darijan Radelic but the Nigerian striker latched onto the rebound but fluffed his attempt.
Akinbule then had another chance but he was narrowly off the target.
Gżira were grateful for the Mosta striker’s wastefulness as they took the lead on 23 minutes. Steve Pisani outfoxed the Mosta defence with a mazy run on the left to set up Yuri Messias who swung in a cross onto the path of the unmarked Maxuell Maia who hit a header past Jovicic.
Mosta had chances to recover but Rodriguez Ekani put his side back in trouble after 39 minutes with a second bookable offence on Maxuell that brought a penalty.
Maxuell nipped past the Mosta defender but he was stopped in his tracks by the Cameroonian defender who held him back by his shirt.
Ekani was as furious by the referee’s decision to award the penalty and was booked for the offence and subsequently sent off. Gabriel Bohrer made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Game over, it seemed for Mosta, but then everything changed as Gżira went off boil.
Mosta grabbed at a lifeline just before half-time when Akinbule showed his pace to outrun Bohrer and strike the ball low behind Radelic.
Mario Muscat, the Mosta mentor tried to force their way back into the game by sending on Ivan Duric and Johnson Nsumoh.
Their response was swift as Nsumoh was desperately unlucky not to grab an equaliser when his left-foot shot finished agonisingly wide.
On 69 minutes, Duric hit the ball inside the box, Rafael Morisco ran perfectly to meet the ball and unmarked headed in the equaliser.
Four minutes from time, Mosta almost punished Gżira’s flat-out approach when substitute Michael Mifsud, running the length of the field, found Duane Bonnici on the other side but the midfielder shot wide.
Gżira left the pitch holding their breath as in the final stages, Bonnici, set up by Mifsud, shot straight at Jovicic.