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Grech saves Hibs as Marsaxlokk continue to impress

Hibernians' winger Thaylor Aldama (left) hits a cross despite the challenge of Leandro Aguirre. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi


Moracci 77


Grech 89

MARSAXLOKK M. Drobnjak-6, C. Edafe-6, A. Attard-6 (80 D. Mifsud), K. Keqi-6.5 (71 F. Moracci), O. Serrano-7.5, A. Ferraris-6.5, O. Carniello-6, L. Aguirre-6, D. Vukovic-7, D. Agius-6 (88 E. Vella), T. Fonseca-6.

HIBERNIANS I. Kone-6, F. Apap-6.5, G. Llerena-6, Thaylor-5, J. Grech-6, J. Degabriele-5, B. Kristensen-6 (75 A. Diakite), D. Vella, G. Artiles-5 (85 J. Zerafa), O. Muritala-4 (61 G. Mensah), R. Soares-5 (85 K. Shaw).

Referee: Malcolm Spiteri.

Yellow cards: Carniello,  Aguirre, Llerena, Kristensen, Degabriele, Zerafa, Vella

Red Card: Dunstan Vella (Hibernians) 90

BOV player of the match: Walter Serrano (Marsaxlokk)

Jake Grech scored a late goal to salvage a point for Hibernians as Marsaxlokk’s impressive run continues.

The Southseasiders took the lead when Fabian Moracci hit the ball home following excellent work from Adrian Ferraris. But Hibernians laid siege on Marsaxlokk’s defence to equalise one minute before the end.

Andrea Pisanu’s side showed much of the style and sharpness of a year ago, when they dominated the first half with a blend of touch and movement, dominating possession and creating a host of half chances, but they lacked sharpness in front of goal.

On 21 minutes, Dunstan Vella set up Hibs’ best move of the first half. The Hibs midfielder whipped a teasing cross from the right for Jake Grech, who found himself completely unmarked just outside the area but Walter Serrano stretched out a leg to block Grech’s effort next to the goalline.

Hibs were making life difficult for Marsaxlokk on the flanks, and Thaylor beat Leandro Aguirre on the right but his back post cross was hit over by Owolabi Muritala.

The second half started somewhat brighter and within minutes Marsaxlokk had fashioned their best chance of the game. Kristian Keqi had a thunderous left-foot shot that flashed across the goal.

On 55 minutes, Ibrahim Kone failed to collect a right-wing corner from Daniel Agius, Oscar Carniello rose above Ferdinando Apap at the far post but headed onto the post.

Hibs midfielder Jake Grech (right) in an aerial duel with Uzeh Edafe. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Marsxalokk’s defence was at its most robust. Serrano and Dejan Vukovic silenced Grech and Jurgen Degarbriele, the nippy striker looking more and more frustrated as the committed yellow shirts swamped his style.

Past the hour mark, a back pass was played short by Gabriel Artiles, and Ibrahim Kone sprinted to the ball and beat Keqi with some excellent footwork.

Grech then unleashed a crashing cross-shot that Marko Drobnjak did well to turn away with an athletic save.

Hibs continued to dominate possession without ever looking like making the breakthrough.

Just when they were beginning to become frustrated with the elusive goal, the Paolites were placed under even greater strain when Marsalokk broke the deadlock.

Adrian Santiago Ferraris picked out substitute Fabian Moracci on the far edge of the area with a right-wing cross. The Argentine midfielder controlled the ball and then sent a rasping drive between two defenders and past Kone.

Hibernians responded by laying siege to the Marsaxlokk goal but struggled to find a way through.

Pisanu brought on Joseph Zerafa who played a key role in Hibs’ equaliser. His cross from the left eventually fell to Grech who thumped his shot behind Drobnjak.

Hibernians were reduced to ten men after Vella was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.

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