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BOV Premier League

Goalkeeper Debono the hero as Sirens frustrate Birkirkara

Birkirkara's Diego Venancio runs through Sirens defence. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

BIRKIRKARA 1

Bevis 24

SIRENS 1

Avoce 26

BIRKIRKARA

A. Sylla-6, R. Enzo-5, L. Montebello-5, C. Bonanni-6.5, K. Zammit-6, F. Falcone-5 (46 J. Macedo-6), R. Scicluna-6 (72 C. Attard), O. Carniello-5, L. Aguirre-6, K. Devis-6 (72 P. Mbong), D. Venancio-7.

SIRENS

J. Debono-8, M. Lomis-5 (90 A. Nakov), B. Gavrila-6 (86 A. Effiong), D. Albanese-7, A. Borg-7, T. Tabone-6 (80 C. Borg), J. Walker-6, C. Zammit Lonardelli-5, A. Cini-5.5, F. Avoce-6, R. Cardoso-6.

Referee: Stefan Pace

Yellow card: Albanese, Borg, Cardoso, Zammit, Attard, Borg.

BOV player of the match: Kilian Bevis (Birkirkara).

Sirens remained on course for a place in the Championship Pool, but it was an unimpressive performance with which the St Paul’s Bay side kept Birkirkara at bay.

It was the brilliant Jonathan Debono who Sirens had to thank for their point as he frustrated their more-quoted opponents with a string of fine saves.

A magnificent save to deny Enzo Ruiz from close-range was the pick of several vital stops he made to earn Sirens a valuable point.

Birkirkara coach André Paus knew Sirens would be a tough team to break down and so it proved from the start.

The Stripes were quick out of the blocks and forced three early corners.

Birkirkara hammered home their supremacy to go ahead on 24 minutes.

Carlo Zammit Lonardelli failed to clear a long cross from Leandro Aguirre under pressure from Kilian Bevis and the latter rifled a powerful finish into the bottom corner.

Sirens, so used to falling behind in recent matches against top sides Valletta and Hibernians, responded with real resilience.

And one minute later, Francis Avoce stabbed home the equaliser with a brilliant turn and finish after being put through by Bogdan Gavrila.

Closely tracked by Enzo Ruiz, the American striker ran onto Gravila through-ball down the right channel, he lost his man before sweeping a shot across Amara Sylla and into the bottom corner of the net.

The second half came to life after five minutes when a superbly taken free-kick by Diego Venancio stretched Debono into a diving save at the foot of the post.

The acrobatics of Debono prevented Birkirkara from scoring a second goal on 63 minutes. Ryan Scicluna broke free on the right and a looping cross to Ruiz whose header forced a good save out of the diving Debono.

Paus made two substitutions bringing on Cain Attard and Paul Mbong. The move paid dividends as the Stripes started to dominate the proceedings.

Jefferson Macedo looked anything but a goalscorer on 76 minutes. A Cain Attard cross from the right was completely missed by the unmarked Portuguese striker as Kurt Zammit’s effort was blocked by the defence.

Attard broke free on the right again and a cross fell to Luke Montebello, but his overhead kick was off-target.

Another run down the right flank by Attard ended with a dangerous cross as Claudio Bonanni got his head to it to deflect the ball just wide.

Macedo combined with substitute Paul Mbong in the dying minutes only to be denied by keeper Debono.

The Sirens goalkeeper came to his side’s rescue one more time when he pushed Venancio’s stinging shot over the bar.

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