Two man-of-the-match performances and two winning goals in the process have been the final product for Sliema Wanderers’ defender Kurt Shaw in the last couple of league outings.
The Malta international’s goals have proved crucial to Sliema’s cause as they recorded their first victories of the season after beating Balzan and Sirens with an identical 1-0 scoreline.
These six points have relieved a bit of pressure off Sliema shoulders, albeit they remain at the bottom of the championship.
However, until a few weeks ago it seemed that Sliema were destined for a disappointing season and an eventual drop into the second-tier for the first time since the 1982-83 campaign.
The last two games have injected confidence in Andrea Pisanu’s team who are now just five points behind 10th-placed Mosta in the 12-team league.
A 10th place finish would guarantee another season in the top flight as the bottom two teams will drop into the Challenge League.
“We are aware of the challenge that is upon us and it was a very tight schedule for us with four games in just 11 days,” Shaw told the Times of Malta.
“However, I feel we managed to take advantage of this situation as instead of having to evaluate our rights and wrongs, we just had to focus immediately on the next games and this helped us to win these two games.
“These are six crucial points for our case as it allows us gain some momentum as we try to lift Sliema in a better place in the standings.”
Although leaders Hibs are next in line to face Sliema, Shaw is upbeat about his team’s chances of extending their positive run.
Shaw’s goals have been key to Sliema but their mediocre attacking record of just 10 goals must be improved if the Blues want to capitalise on the chances, they create.
On the other hand, Sliema’s can be satisfied with their defensive department which have been essential against Balzan and Sirens with Shaw marshalling the backline alongside central defenders Juan Morales and winter signing Oscar Bethancourt, in his second spell at Sliema.
“We have injected our squad with more quality and the fact that we are not changing a lot in our starting formation from game to game it gives us a helping hand as well,” the defender explained.
“In particular in the early stages of the season, we had to face injuries and suspensions which disrupted us as we failed to pick up points, but now we are in a better place and we want to capitalise on it.”
The 22-year-old defender, considered as one of the hottest prospects in the Maltese game, is often linked with a transfer move abroad and it is expected that he will take that path soon.
Nonetheless, Shaw is keen to help his beloved Sliema in the best possible way to rescue the 26-time league champions from an unexpected relegation.
“I am a Sliema player and that comes with the responsibility to help my team improve its league situation,” Shaw said.
“I may have scored the last two winning goals, but this is a collective effort and I am pleased that we are starting to gain some positive results.”