SANTA LUCIA 0
ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 1
J. Haber-6.5, A. Prates-6, J. Pisani-6, N. Pulis-7, G. Conti-6.5, P. Mota-6 (82 J. Zerafa), V. Plut-6, D. Valpoort-6 (72 Alan), V. Filho-6 (82 J Tanti), D. Xuereb-5, L. Fonseca-5.
H. Bonello-7, D. Gojkovic-6, J Mbong-5.5, A. Oyama-6.5, S. Borg-5, F. Sasere-6, M. Fedele-5 (67 P. Djordevic), L. Gambin-6 (67 J. Soares), J. Corbalan-5.5 (77 K. Micallef), E. Marcelina-5, F. El Bakhtaoui-6.
Referee: Slobodan Petrovic.
Yellow cards: El Bakhtauoi, Borg, Prates, Haber.
BOV player of the match: Nicholas Pulis (Santa Lucia).
Arthur Oyama scored 12 minutes from time to give Ħamrun Spartans a first win in five league matches and halt Santa Lucia’s winning run.
Santa Lucia deserved at least a point for their endeavour but they were made to pay for their failure to capitalise on a string of chances.
With this win, the first under new coach Branko Nisevic, Ħamrun have assured themselves of a berth in the Championship Pool, with Santa Lucia long relegated to the relegation pool, saw their positive streak of two wins and a draw coming to abrupt end.
Coach Branko Nisevic opted for a 4-2-1-3 formation with Luke Gambin assigned a roving role behind a three-pronged attack led by Franklin Sasere, Joseph Mbong and Faissal El Bakhtauoui.
The two teams’ tactical configuration was more or less the same but Giovanni Tedesco proved himself as a more flexible tactician as he favoured a fluid attack with Vito Plut afforded the liberty to roam and Davidy Valpoort and Victor Filho probing for openings on the wings.
In fact, Santa Lucia looked the tidier and neater team and carved out the better chances. Inside the first five minutes, Gianmarco Conti could only toe-poke a weak effort at Henry Bonello after Plut played him in.
On 36 minutes, Filho threaded a ball through to Valpoort who forced Bonello to batter away his header.
With half-time approaching, Luke Gambin blasted the ball over as the Spartans sought the lead.
Despite their dominance in possession, Santa Lucia lacked a striker hovering around the Ħamrun box with Plut often dropping deeper in order to get involved in the build-up.
The Slovenian striker went close to a breakthrough five minutes after the break when he was sent clear from near the halfway line and slotted the ball past Bonello. But the ‘goal’ was ruled out for offside.
On 65 minutes, Justin Haber was alert to touch away Gambin’s point-blank shot.
It was the cue for Nisevic who threw Jorge Ailton and Predrag Djordevic into the hunt for a winner but it was Arthur Oyama whose pace took him clear of Dexter Xuereb to drill home from the edge of the box in the 78th minute.
Four minutes from time, an almighty scramble from a Santa Lucia corner with Plut and Conti almost turning the ball into the net but somehow the Spartans cleared.
At death, El Bakhtaoui was given a chance to run on goal but the French striker was denied by the onrushing Haber.
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