ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 0
H. Bonello-6; S. Borg, M. Guillaumier-6, E. Mashike-6.5 (77 K. Holmberg), R. Prsa-6 (69 Vinicius), O. Bjelicic-6.5, J. Corbalan-6, Jonny-6 (77 L. Montebello), J. Mbong-6, E. Marcelina-6.5, R. Camenzuli-6 (41 Ederson-6).
G. Nava-6; O. Iorio-6.5, A. Alves-6 (27 K. Tulimieri-6.5), Y. Yankam-6.5, P. Mbong-6 (90 N. Micallef), K. Zammit-6.5, M. Fedele-6.5 (90 A. Ciolacu), C. Attard-6.5, S. Zibo-6.5, A. Coppola-6.5, D. Ribeiro-6.5.
Referee Alex Johnson.
Yellow cards Fedele, Borg, Joseph Mbong, Attard, Corbalan.
Red card Steve Borg (Ħamrun Spartans) 90.
BOV Player of the Match Alessandro Coppola (Birkirkara).
Ħamrun Spartans and Birkirkara fired blanks in a cagey stalemate in the highlight game of the week on Sunday at the National Stadium.
In a repetition of the reverse fixture in the first round, the two teams could not break down each other with a second consecutive 0-0 draw being recorded in this tie.
A third matchup between both Ħamrun and Birkirkara is coming next weekend as the two teams will contend for a semi-final spot in the FA Trophy.
This point sees the Spartans restore their 11-point lead above Gżira United following the Maroons’ draw with Floriana.
Birkirkara, on their part, failed to edge closer towards Darren Abdilla’s side as they remain third on 39 points. However, they managed to maintain their three-point distance from fourth-place Mosta after the latter failed to beat Valletta.
For this game, the Spartans had Joseph Mbong and Jonny aiding sole striker Elvis Mashike.
On the other hand, Birkirkara’s forward line was composed by Alex Alves and Paul Mbong.
Ħamrun Spartans almost forged ahead after four minutes when Matthew Guillaumier whipped in a cross but Joseph Mbong failed to capitalise on it from close range.
Brazilian winger Jonny tried his luck to put the Spartans ahead but his effort from long distance was blocked by Giacomo Nava.
As the first half wore on, chances were at a premium with the two teams managing to cancel each, outlining their tactical organisation on the field.
Both Ħamrun Spartans and Birkirkara were forced to replace a player due to injuries. Birkirkara’s Kevin Tulimieri came on for Alex Alves after the Brazilian picked up a hamstring injury while Ryan Camenzuli was the Spartans’ change after the Malta international was in discomfort after a heavy fall on the pitch. He was replaced by Ederson, four minutes from time.
On minute 57, the Spartans had an open play chance through forward Elvis Mashike but his close-range effort was diverted into a corner by Nava.
Branko Nisevic’s side were looking to pile more pressure on the Stripes but Giovanni Tedesco’s side executed their defensive phase in a sublime manner to keep the Spartans at bay.
In the closing stages of the game, the Serbian coach introduced forwards Karl Holmberg and Luke Montebello in an attempt to spark their attack into life.
Ħamrun Spartans were reduced to ten men in stoppage time following a Steve Borg foul which led to a second yellow card.
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