ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 1
SIRENS J. Debono-7, H. Motta-7, C. Borg-6 (75 C. Riascos), M. Lomis-5 (57 V. Vieira-6), B. Gavrila-6.5 (74 D. Jackson), A. Borg-6, J. Walker-6, C. Zammit Lonardelli-6, A. Cini-6, F. Avoce-5.5 (84 A. Effiong), Renato-6.
ĦAMRUN SPARTANS H. Bonello-6, J. Mbong-6, J. Soares-5.5, S. Borg-6, F. Sasere-6, M. Fedele-6 (72 P. Djordjevic), L. Gambin-6, K. Micallef-5.5, C. Dielna-6, E. Marcelina-6, F. El Bakhtaoui-4.
Referee Philip Farrugia.
Yellow cards Walker, Djordjevic, Micallef, Sasere.
BOV Player of the match Matteo Fedele (Ħamrun Spartans).
Ħamrun Spartans dropped more precious points when the Malta champions were held by a spirited Sirens side yesterday.
The Spartans came into the match desperate for the three points after a barren run of results which saw them fall out of this season’s title race, trailing Hibernians by 13 points before kick-off.
Things looked to turning in the right direction for the Reds when Matteo Fedele put them ahead with a spectacular strike.
But Sirens had other plans and Henrique Motta headed home the equaliser early in the second half to earn the St Paul’s Bay side a valuable point in their quest for a top-six berth.
Branko Nisevic made his first debut as Ħamrun coach since replacing Mark Buttigieg this week and the Serbian handed the captain’s armband to Joseph Mbong. Henry Bonello returned in goal after recovering from injury while Claude Dielna regained his place in defence.
Sirens took the ground running and inside the first three minutes, they should have taken the lead when Alex Cini sent a fine cross toward Francis Avoce who headed just wide from two metres out.
Ħamrun took some time to assert themselves into the match and they had to wait until the 22nd minute for their first shot on target.
Jorge Soares picked Luke Gambin on the right and the Malta midfielder hit a thumping drive that was pushed away by Jonathan Debono.
Fourteen minutes from the break, Sirens threatened again when from a Gavrila corner-kick, Renato headed the ball wide.
The St Paul’s Bay side remained dangerous and on 35 minutes Bonello was forced to dive full stretch to push away Gavrila’s shot.
When it looked as though the match would remain goalless until the break, the Spartans struck.
Matteo Fedele won the ball just outside the area and hit a rasping drive that gave no chance to Debono.
Sirens could have levelled the match in injury time but Henrique Motta headed wide.
On the restart, Sirens continued to threaten and on 53 minutes Henrique Motta hit a fierce drive that flashed wide.
But the Spartans came also close to making it 2-0 when, on 55 minutes, Steve Borg connected to El Bakhtaoui’s corner but was denied by Debono.
Then three minutes later, Gambin hit a low drive that whizzed past the upright.
But it was Sirens who levelled matters on 62 minutes when Motta headed into the far corner following a Gavrila free-kick.
Twelve minutes from time, Carlo Zammit Lonardelli could have won it for Sirens when he latched onto a pass by Vitor Vieira but fired over from a central position.
At the death, the Spartans had a half-chance to win but Sasere’s header was pushed away by Debono.