I. Kone-6, F. Apap-6.5, L. Almeida-6, J. Grech-6.5, J. Degabriele-6.5, D. Vella-6.5, J. Zerafa 6 (46’ G. Izquier-6), A. Agius-6, A, Muniz-5.5 (61 Thaylor), A. Diakite-5.5 (68 Raphael), H. Da Costa Oliveira-6 (88 W. Domoraud).
V. Vranes-6, M. Djuric-5.5 (67 M. Grima), P. Fenech-6.5 (90 B. Kaljevic), N. Gulan-6, M. Johnson-6.5 (87 N. Frendo), U. Ljubomirac-6, M. Zlatkovic-6, G. Camilleri-6, M. Mijic-6, A. Andrejic-6 (87 S. Jalu), S. Cipriott.
Refere: Stefan Pace.
Yellow cards: Muniz, Almeida, Johnson, Cipriott, Grech.
BOV Player of the Match: Paul Fenech (Balzan).
Hibernians left it late to beat Balzan 1-0 and regain the top spot in the BOV Premier League although Floriana have a game in hand.
Both sides were seeking maximum points from this clash for different reasons.
While the Paolites were eager to bounce back after earning just one point from the previous two matches, Balzan needed the three points to maintain alive hopes of securing a top six finish.
Hibs had an edge over their opponents but Balzan controlled their opponents well and could consider themselves unlucky having to leave Ta’ Qali empty-handed. This loss means that Balzan will be playing among the bottom six as they remain third from bottom.
Balzan coach Paul Zammit made one change from the team which defeated Sirens as Nikola Gulan was preferred to Alvin Daniels.
Hibernians, on the other hand, welcomed back Andrei Agius and Leandro Almedia after both served a one-match ban while Jake Grech and Joseph Zerafa were back in the starting line-up after being included as substitutes last week.
Following a quiet start for the two teams, Uros Ljubomirac tested Ibrahim Kone with a shot from the right on 13 minutes.
Hibs replied with a fine move by Jake Grech but he concluded wide two minutes later. Jurgen Degabriele had a shot from outside the area which was saved partially by Vukasin Vranes on 23 minutes and six minutes later, a Milan Djuric effort from outside the area was neutralised by Kone.
Balzan threatened with a Paul Fenech header on 33 minutes which was parried by the Hibs goalkeeper.
One minute from the end of the first half, Degabriele headed the ball in the direction of Jake Grech whose angled shot ended just wide.
During the second half, Balzan continued to keep their opponents under control although on 61 minutes, Grech released Degabriele inside the area but the latter’s attempt missed the target.
Balzan replied with a powerful drive by Andrejic which was turned into a corner by the Hibs custodian on 76 minutes.
As the game seemed heading for a draw, four minutes from time, Hibernians managed to break the deadlock.
Substitute Thaylor delivered a cross from the right and Ferdinando Apap’s first-time effort gave the Balzan goalkeeper no chance.
In added time, the Paolites could have added another when in a swift counter-attack, Domoraud served Jake Grech on the right but the latter’s attempt was blocked by Vranes with the French striker’s header off the rebound, ending over the bar.