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Heavy rain halts Ħamrun-Zebbuġ midway

Żebbuġ Rangers and Ħamrun Spartans battled it out in the rain before the match got eventually abandoned. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS       2         

Bugeja 3, Jankovic 10

ĦAMRUN SPARTANS     1         

Jonny 14                                

(Match suspended at halftime due to waterlogged pitch)

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS J. Azzopardi, S. Bugeja, L. Almeida, T. Bartolo, W. Santos, A. Mizzi, S. Jankovic, C. Lokoli Ngoy, G. Mifsud, J. Sciberras, S. Miloskovic.

ĦAMRUN SPARTANS H. Bonello, E. Domingos, S. Borg, M. Guillaumier, L. Montebello, E. Mashike, R. Prsa, R. Callegari, Jonny, E. Marcelina, R. Camenzuli.

Referee Ezekiel Barbara

The top-bottom clash between Żebbuġ Rangers and Ħamrun Spartans was interrupted at half-time as the heavy rainfall that fell on the Maltese islands flooded the pitch at the Centenary Stadium.

The match kicked off three quarters of an hour late after the first game between Birkirkara and Gżira United was interrupted and resumed later.

Żebbuġ, who share the bottom spot with Pieta’ Hotspurs, stunned the Spartans with two goals within the first ten minutes with Ħamrun reducing the gap four minutes later and maintaining their opponents under pressure for the rest of the first half.

However, due to the incessant rainfall, referee Ezekiel Barbara opted to wait for the water to drain before trying to kick off the second half and in fact waited for almost forty-five minutes before inspecting the pitch with the two team captains, Shaun Bugeja and Steve Borg, and deciding to abandon the game.

Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Following the defeat to Valletta, Żebbuġ coach Brian Spiteri welcomed back Wilker Rocha Santos, also naming Travis Bartolo and Ayrton Mizzi in the starting line-up. On the other hand, Ognjen Bjelicic, Juan Corbalan, and Dodo made way for Ederson Bruno Domingos, Luke Montebello, and Jonny in Branko Nisevic’s starting 11.

Żebbuġ went close early in the game with Charles Lokoli Ngoy, served on the right by Jankovic, having a good shot turned into a corner by Henry Bonello.

But the Rangers managed to take the lead after three minutes. Stefan Jankovic delivered a cross from the right and captain Shaun Bugeja dashed into the area to head home past goalkeeper Henry Bonello.

Żebbuġ doubled the score on 10 minutes. It was a freekick by Stefan Jankovic from the left which surprised Bonello to end in the back of the net.

Ħamrun hit back on 14 minutes. Elvis Mashike delivered a cross from the left and Jonny headed the ball home from close range.

This goal filled the leaders with courage and on 23 minutes, Rodrigo Callegari went close with a header off a corner by Ederson. A freekick by the latter ended high a minute later.

Five minutes from the end of the first half, Jonny served Elvis Mashike whose angled shot from the right was turned into a corner by goalkeeper Jamie Azzopardi. Four minutes later, a close-range header by Jonny, off a cross by Callegari, was neutralised by the Żebbuġ goalkeeper before the two teams went into the dressing rooms for half-time.

The game will be resumed from the beginning of the second half on a date that is yet to be confirmed.

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