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No goals in drab stalemate for Spartans, Birkirkara

Hamrun Spartans and Birkirkara could not be separated on Wednesday. Photo: Domenic Aquilina



ĦAMRUN SPARTANS H. Bonello-6, D. Gojkovic-6.5, M. Guillaumier-6, J. Mbong-6, A. Oyama-6, F. Sasere-7, L. Gambin-6.5, J. Corbalan-6 (58 K. Micallef-6), C. Dielna-6.5, E. Marcelina-6 (56 P. Djordjevic-6), F. El Bakhtaoui-5.

BIRKIRKARA A. Sylla-6.5, E. Pepe-6, Y. Yankam-6, L. Montebello-6, C. Bonanni-6, J. Nsumoh-5 (69 F. Falcone), C. Attard-6 (46 R. Scicluna-5.5), B. Nghissah-6 (69 P. Mbong-6), O. Carniello-6, L. Aguirre-6, D. Venancio-6.

Referee Philip Farrugia.

Yellow cards Guillaumier, Marcelina, Bonanni, Djordjevic, Oyama, Carniello.

BOV Player of the match Franklin Sasere (Ħamrun Spartans).

Ħamrun Spartans and Birkirkara failed to make significant inroads in their chase of Premier League leaders Hibernians after the two rivals cancelled each other in a goalless stalemate at the National Stadium.

For the two title aspirants, the match represented a good opportunity to step up the pressure on the Premier League front runners but failed to deliver the goods.

In fact, neither side managed to hold the upper hand as scoring chances remained few and far between with the best chance falling to Joseph Mbong midway through the second half but was denied by an excellent save by Amara Sylla.

In the end, neither side managed to find a breakthrough as the stalemate prevailed, leaving Ħamrun remained in third place, seven points adrift of Hibernians with Birkirkara a further point back.

The first opportunity of the match came for the Spartans when from Guillaumier corner kick, Amara Sylla had to be alert to keep the ball out after a freak deflection from a team-mate.

Birkirkara responded on 20 minutes when from a Venancio corner kick, the Spartans failed to clear with the ball falling kindly to Enrico Pepe who fired over.

Chances remained limited as both teams were struggling to create openings. On the half-hour, El Bakhtaoui tried his luck from the distance but his effort flew over as the stalemate prevailed at the break.

Andre Paus, the Birkirkara coach, was forced to make his first change at the start of the second half when Cain Attard failed to recover from a knee injury and was replaced by Ryan Scicluna.

Ħamrun tried to step up their game and on 51 minutes Luke Gambin’s cross was met by Franklin Sasere but his effort flew wide.

Birkirkara should have punished the Spartans three minutes later when Leandro Aguirre dispossessed Corbalan and immediately served the unmarked Montebello who failed to control the ball as the Spartans cleared.

Ħamrun had their best chance on 70 minutes when Sasere’s cross was deflected by substitute Dodo into the path of Joseph Mbong who was denied by the onrushing Sylla.

Both sides tried to find a late winner but for all their efforts they never really troubled the opposing goalkeeper as the two sides had to settle for a point.

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