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Ħamrun Spartans edge past Hotspurs with late penalty

Hamrun winger Jonny tries to find a way through the Pieta Hotspurs defence. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

PIETA HOTSPURS 1

Leonardi 67

ĦAMRUN SPARTANS        2

Corbolan 38; Mashike 80 pen.

PIETA HOTSPURS R. Cini-6.5, S. Okoh-5 (46 K. Leonardi-7), C. Bangura-6, O. Temitope-6, D. Zerafa-6, J. Ghio-6.5 (90 G. Xuereb), T. Agius-6 (72 A. Schembri Wismayer), Z. Leonardi-6, A. Ogungbe-5.5, D. Rodrigues-6.5, T. Yamaguchi-6.5.

HAMRUN SPARTANS H. Bonello-6, E. Domingos-6.5, S. Borg-6, M. Guillaumier-6, E. Mashike-6.5, J. Soares-6 (73 L. Montebello), R. Prsa-6 (85 Vinicius), O. Bjelicic-6, J. Corbolan-7, Jonny-7 (85 R. Callegari), R. Camenzuli-6.5.

Referee Emanuel Grech.

Yellow cards Okoh, Bjelicic, Cini.

BOV Player of the match Juan Corbolan (Ħamrun Spartans).

Ħamrun Spartans added to their margin at the top of the BOV Premier League standings with a close 2-1 victory over bottom side Pieta Hotspurs at the Centenary Stadium.

Both sides were coming from wins against Gozitan opposition in the FA Trophy as Pieta had beaten Xewkija, while Hamrun had overcome Għajnsielem in extra-time.

Returning to Premier League action, it was now a battle between geographical neighbours on opposite sides of the table.

Ħamrun looked the dominant side early on but Pieta held firm as the Spartans threatened first on 14 minutes from a Roko Prsa freekick which slithered through the crowded area but goalkeeper Reeves Cini blocked away the effort.

The Spartans were close again four minutes later when Jonny’s header slammed the post.

The Hotspurs pushed forward close to the half-hour mark with a Davi Rodrigues effort but his shot was calmly collected by Henry Bonello.

Thirty three minutes in, Ħamrun missed a huge opportunity when the ball was floated to Juan Corbolan but the Malta international’s first-timed shot went wide.

However, he made up for the mistake on 38 minutes when, unmarked yet again, he fired in an angled shot into the bottom corner as the Spartans took a deserved lead.

Prsa nearly made it 2-0, three minutes from the break, meeting a corner kick with a header which Cini was alert to collect.

The Hotspurs started the second half with a spring in their step as they looked for an equaliser, with most of the ball in the Ħamrun half.

On 67 minutes, Ħamrun had an Ederson effort hitting the post and they were made to pay when with the ball still in play, Pieta went on the counter.

Substitute Kian Leonardi did all the running as he sped into the Spartans half, beating his marker and eventually rounded Bonello to hit an easy finish into the empty net.

But ten minutes from time, Ħamrun were awarded a penalty after Corbolan was tripped inside the area.

Elvis Mashike made no mistake to seal the three points for the Spartans.

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