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Hibernians look to get back to winning ways as top-six race intensifies

The race for a top six-placing in the BOV Premier League resumes this weekend with another fascinating programme of matches, with some direct clashes particularly in the top half of the standings.

The first programme of matches of 2022, which was played in midweek, has offered some interesting situations with runaway leaders Hibernians unexpectedly dropping two

valuable points in a 1-1 draw against Sirens at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

The Paolites’ ‘slip-up’ has enabled their nearest rivals Floriana, Ħamrun Spartans and Birkirkara, to close the gap after securing victories over Valletta, Mosta and Balzan respectively.

This afternoon, Hibernians will be determined to get back to winning ways when they take on Mosta at the Centenary Stadium.

Hibernians have sorely felt the absence of their skipper Bjorn Kristensen as the energetic midfielder has been ruled out of the rest of the season with a serious knee injury.

Coach Stefano Sanderra will be hoping his players will rediscover their clinical touch in front of goal which deserted them against Sirens in midweek as their profligacy in the final third proved costly after they were pegged back by a battling Sirens side.

Hibernians will be aware of the physical challenge awaiting them against a Mosta team that made life difficult for Ħamrun Spartans in midweek.

In fact, the Blues’ physical power and direct approach created some anxious moments to the Malta champions and had they taken the opportunities that came their way they could have easily avoided defeat.

Floriana, buoyed by their impressive derby victory over Valletta, will be looking to preserve their runner-up spot in the standings, when they take on fourth-placed Birkirkara in tomorrow’s main match.

Gianluca Atzori’s boys have been without a doubt the revelation of the season as despite

fielding a clutch of talented youngsters, they are still managing to play some of the best football seen so far this season and, more importantly, holding the edge over some of the big guns in the division.

The Greens will be boosted by the availability of new signing Rumyan Hovsepyan, the Armenian international midfielder who joined the club on Thursday, whose experience will provide further solidity in the team’s engine room.

Floriana will be up against a Birkirkara side who after a bright start to the season have turned out to be somewhat of a ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ due to their unpredictability in their performance.

Birkirkara’s dramatic 3-2 win over Balzan epitomised the Stripes’ inconsistent displays this season. In fact, for more than an hour of the match they were outplayed by Balzan who deservedly led by two goals.

But in the final 20 minutes, Birkirkara managed to step up their game and scored three goals in the dying moments of the match to secure a dramatic victory.

Ħamrun Spartans will be looking to make it five wins in a row when they take on Balzan in today’s opening match at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

Mark Buttigieg’s team seem to have found their form in recent weeks which saw them climb up the standings and have managed to bridge the gap over leaders Hibernians to eight points, but have a game in hand.

Still, Ħamrun Spartans have no margin of error and will be up against a Balzan side who have shown remarkable improvement since Paul Zammit replaced Mark Miller at the helm of the team late last year.

Balzan will surely hope to provide the right response to their late debacle against Birkirkara and will be confident of offering a stiff challenge and pick up valuable points as they look to put themselves back among the top six teams in the division.

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