Montebello 51 pen; 67
SLIEMA WANDERERS 0
D. Fernandes-6, E. Ruiz-6, L. Montebello-6.5, C. Bonanni-6, P. Mbong-5.5 (56 Y. Yankam-6), F. Falcone-6 (84 K. Bevis), R. Scicluna-5.5, C. Attard-6, L. Aguirre-5.5, J. Macedo-5.5, D. Venancio-6.
D. Cassar-6, J. Morales-5.5, G. Aquilina-6, G. Inters-5.5 (78 O. Elouni), E. Agius-6 (65’ D. Holla), J. Engerer-5.5 (64 M. Fernandes), Y. Uchida-6 (78 C. Flores), M. Beerman-6, J. Bliek-6, D. Vukovic-6, V. Berisha-5 (36 J.P. Farrugia-6).
Referee: Andrea Sciriha.
Yellow cards: Engerer, Aguirre, Berisha, Scicluna, Agius, Aquilina, Morales, Cassar, Holla.
BOV Player of the Match: Luke Montebello (Birkirkara).
A second-half brace from Luke Montebello put Birkirkara back on track as they defeated Sliema Wanderers 2-0.
The victory lifted the Stripes closer to leaders Hibernians after disappointing in recent outings.
The Wanderers gave a good account of themselves during the first half but after conceding the first goal, they never seemed to be a threat to their opponents.
After losing the three points they had won on the pitch against Valletta, this defeat leaves then anchored at the bottom of the table.
Coach Andrea Pisanu made just one change to the team which defeated Valletta as Juan Pablo Morales replaced Kurt Shaw.
On the other hand, Birkirkara coach Andre Paus employed Enzo Ruiz and Claudio Bonanni as the two central defenders in the absence of Enrico Pepe and Oscar Carniello while Ryan Scicluna was preferred to Yannick Yankam.
The Blues had a first attempt at goal on 11 minutes with Jake Engerer’s effort from outside the area deflected into a corner.
Birkirkara replied with an assist by Montebello for Ryan Scicluna whose conclusion was neutralised by David Cassar on 29 minutes.
A Gui Inters long-distance effort ended just wide for Sliema on 34 minutes and two minutes later, Edmond Agius was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a free-kick from the left.
Diego Venancio tested Cassar with a powerful shot from outside the area.
But towards the end of the first half, Sliema went close with a Jean Paul Farrugia header, off a corner by Agius, which was tipped into a corner by the Birkirkara goalkeeper.
In added time, Uchida missed an excellent opportunity as he failed to connect off an inviting cross by Julius Bliek.
Birkirkara managed to break the deadlock six minutes in the second half. Federico Falcone was brought down inside the area by Morales and Montebello duly converted from the penalty spot.
The Stripes were now in control and Yannick Yankam almost made it 2-0 on 62 minutes after concluding a solo effort which was partially saved by the Sliema goalkeeper.
On the other side of the pitch, a Jean Paul Farrugia header was parried by Fernandes.
Birkirkara doubled the score on 67 minutes. Macedo sent Yankam through on the right and the latter rolled the ball into the path of Montebello who controlled well before hitting low past Cassar.
Ten minutes later, substitute Miguel Fernandes went close to reducing the gap with a close-range effort but Daniel Fernandes neutralised his attempt in style.