ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 0
O. Cancarevic, James, T. Voskanyan, D. Kadio, T. Cameta, A. Grigoryan, A. Yedigaryan (88 S. Shahinyan), D. Khurtsidze (79 A. Karapetyan), T. Galvao (46 S. Metoyan), B. Hovhannisyan (46 R. Hovsepyan), B. Diaz (58 I. Fofana).
H. Bonello, R. Camenzuli, S. Borg, O. Bjelicic, J. Corbalan (75 K. Micallef), E. Domingos (62 I. Nedeljkovic), E. Marcelina, M. Guillaumier, Dodo (89 M. Fedele), E. Mashike, Jonny (46 R. Prsa).
Referee Vassilis Fotias (Greece).
Yellow cards: Corbalan, Guillaumier, Marcelina, Yerdigaryan, Nedeljkovic, Fofana.
Artik Yedigaryan handed the edge to Alashkert over Ħamrun Spartans after eking out a 1-0 win in their UEFA Conference League first leg tie in Yerevan on Thursday.
However, the Spartans are well into this tie, particularly after their encouraging performance in the second half which saw them hold more possession than the home side and had they been more precise in their distribution of the ball in the final third they could have returned home with a positive result.
But no doubt, Nisevic has a lot of positives to take for next week’s second leg as the Spartans showed that they are capable of upsetting their more-quoted opponents and progress to the next round.
Ħamrun Spartans coach Branko Nisevic handed a debut to five new signings as defenders Ryan Camenzuli and Ognjen Bjelicic, midfielder Ederson and forwards Elvis Mashike and Jonny were all handed a berth in the starting formation.
On the other hand, Alashkert had some familiar faces in their squad as Thiago Galvao, who was on the books of Floriana a few seasons ago, started in midfield while Rumyan Hovsepyan, who played for the Greens last season, started on the bench.
The match was evenly-balanced for much of the opening 20 minutes with Alashkert enjoying possession with the Spartans happy to operate on their quick attacking transitions.
The only attempt at goal arrived from the home side when on 19 minutes when Benik Hovhannisyan saw his shot deflected to a corner.
But five minutes later, the home side took the lead.
Bladimir Diaz laid the ball into the path of Artik Yedigaryan who unleashed a powerful low drive that rolled past Bonello.
After that setback, the Spartans managed to recover their poise as they looked comfortable containing Alashkert’s attacking maneuvers.
Ħamrun finally threatened four minutes from the break when Dodo picked Guillaumier inside the area and the midfielder quickly set up Makhise who fired over.
The Spartans started the second half brightly and on 47 minutes Makhise connected to Dodo’s free-kick but his header finished wide.
Alashkert responded six minutes later when Metoyan tried to find Diaz at the far post but the Colombian failed to connect.
The Spartans had another chance two minutes later when Mashike knocked the ball towards Jonny who was anticipated by the onrushing Cancarevic.
Ħamrun were looking a much better side in the second half, and just past the hour Nisevic roped in Roko Prsa for Jonny while Igor Nedeljkovic came on for Ederson as they pushed for an equaliser.
Eleven minutes from time, Marcelina latched onto Prsa’s delivery from a corner but his downward header flashed just wide.
In stoppage time, Cancarevic came to his team’s rescue when he somehow kept out substitute Matteo Fedele’s cross-shot as the Armenians held on for the win.