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BOV Premier League

Spartans battle past Mosta

Ħamrun Spartans edged past Mosta to keep up with this season's league leaders. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

ĦAMRUN SPARTANS  2

Dielna 35

Mbong 49

MOSTA             1

Failla 37 pen.

ĦAMRUN SPARTANS H. Bonello-6, D. Gojkovic-7, M. Guillaumier-6.5, J. Mbong-6, F. Sasere-6, L. Gambin-6.5, K. Micallef-6, I. Ntow-6.5 (77 A. Oyama), C. Dielna-7.5, E. Marcelina-7, F. El Bakhtaoui-7.

MOSTA C. Maffoumbi-5.5, R. Briffa-6, W. Donkin-5 (46 J. Nsumoh-5.5), C. Failla-6, J. Bezzina-5.5 (70 M. Mifsud), Raul-6, L. Riascos-6, R. Morisco-6, Z. Brincat-5.5 (67 D. Bonnici-5), S. Akinbule-6, E. Rodriguez-5.5 (75 G. Sciberras).

Referee Fyodor Zammit

Yellow cards Micallef, Gojkovic, Riascos.

BOV Player of the match Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Ħamrun Spartans).

Ħamrun Spartans kept up the pressure on runaway leaders Hibernians when they battled past Mosta at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

It was a hard-fought victory for the Spartans who had to contend with the physical challenge offered by Mosta whose direct play, time and again caused problems to the Spartans.

But in the end, the Spartans’ technical qualities came to the fore as, after goals from the excellent Claude Dielna and Joseph Mbong, they picked up three valuable points that pushed them six points adrift of the leaders.

Ħamrun had an early chance after four minutes when Isaac Ntow intercepted a poor clearance by the Mosta defence, sped inside the area but fired wide.

Mosta came even closer on 18 minutes but Ħamrun goalkeeper Henry Bonello showed great reflexes to somehow keep out Raul’s header from close in before the Spartans defence cleared the ball away.

Five minutes later, Mafoumbi was well-placed to block Matthew Guillaumieri’s long-range strike.

There was little separating either side at this juncture with the Spartans coming close again on the half-hour when Gambin picked El Bakhtaoui who turned past his marker but his low drive flashed just wide.

The Spartans found the breakthrough on 34 minutes when from a Gambin free-kick, Claude Dielna anticipated his marker and his dipping header beat the diving Matoumbi.

But Ħamrun’s lead lasted only two minutes as Karl Micallef was adjudged to have pulled down Luis Riascos inside the area and from the spot, Clayton Failla drilled the ball home.

Failla was again the protagonist in stoppage time when he came to his team’s rescue to clear off the line Dielna’s header that looked destined to hit the net.

Ħamrun started the second half brightly and inside the first four minutes, they restored their lead.

El Bakhtaoui’s shot was pushed by Mafoumbi into the path of Mbong who headed the ball into the net.

The Spartans should have added a third on the hour when Marcelina picked El Bakhtaoui who turned past his marker but fired over with Mafoumbi only to beat.

At the other end, Nsumoh played in Zachary Brincat who was denied by the onrushing Bonello.

On 72 minutes, Mafoumbi did very well to keep out El Bakhtaoui’s diagonal shot.

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