A. Sylla-5, E. Ruiz-5, E. Pepe-5, L. Montebello-6 (84 F. Falcone), P. Mbong-7 (66 C. Bonanni), K. Zammit-6, C. Attard-5.5, L. Aguirre-5, K. Bevis-6 (84 R. Scicluna), J. Macedo-6, D. Venancio-6.
A. Guarnone-6 (76 Y. Cini), J. Borg-4, T. Caruana-5 (65 A. Zammit), C. Gauci-5, E. Pena Beltre-5, D. Promise-6.5, I. Curjuric-6.5, R. Muscat-6 (76 H. Dilaver), E. Sala-6.5, C. Prado-5 (65 L. Campos), M. Fontanella-6.
Referee: Fyodor Zammit.
Yellow card: Attard, Pena Beltre, Muscat, Venancio, Ruiz.
BOV player of the match: Ivan Curjuric (Valletta).
Birkirkara extinguished Valletta’s flickering hopes of forcing their way into the Championship Pool when they held their arch rivals to a 1-1 draw.
Valletta, a byword for success in the past years, were doomed to the Relegation Pool after their fate was taken out of their own hands with their draw against Mosta last weekend.
So, their flickering hopes of forcing their way into the Championship Pool were hanging on a combination of results elsewhere.
Four minutes into the match and news reached the Valletta supporters that Gudja United had taken a 1-0 lead against Mosta, a score which dragged the Lilywhites in the Relegation pool.
Danilo Doncic’s side suffered another killer blow when Kurt Zammit made a strong diagonal run on the left before squaring the ball into the box, Jean Borg looked to have cleared any danger but he was dispossessed by Kilian Bevis as he bore down on goal, the French striker let the ball run loose for Mbong who drilled an effort past Alessandro Guarnone.
The ball finished in Birkikara’s net two minutes from half-time but Promise’s ‘goal’ was annulled for a charge on goalkeeper Amara Sylla.
Unsurprisingly after the break, Valletta showed some urgency in their play after the break and Sylla had to be alert to punch away Ivan Curjuric’s free-kick.
The Citizens endeavoured to keep their opponents under pressure, the Croatian midfielder, twisted and turned just outside the box to glide away from Diego Venancio but his rising shot crashed against the crossbar on the hour mark.
Valletta were starting to exert control with Mario Fontanella hitting the ball from a long range. His effort sailed towards goal, forcing a smart save from Sylla.
News filtered that Sirens were losing against Gżira United and Valletta knew that a goal for Mosta in the other match could plunge them back into contention but they had enough on their hands coping with a determined Birkirkara side.
In fact, three minutes from time, substitute Federico Falcone hit a low shot which was blocked by substitute goalkeeper Yenz Cini.
At death, Valletta were gifted an equaliser when Sylla miskicked the ball, allowing Promise a clear shot at goal. The Canadian striker duly accepted the invitation to equalise.
Valletta knew they need to score again and hope Mosta equalised but they never looked like producing the required miracle.