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Balzan rally as relegation battle goes to the wire


Vieira 22, Lomis 26


Grima 21, Duric 49, Andrejic 57


S. Mintoff-6, C. Borg-6, M. Lomis-6, B. Gavrila-5 (77 H. Macelino), A. Borg-6, T. Tabone-5 (77 A. Cini), J. Walker-6 (77 A. Effiong), C. Zammit Lonardelli-6, C. Riascos-6 (62 D. Jackson), V. Vieira-7, R. Cardoso-5.


R. Briffa-6, A. Loof-5.5, M Grima-6, M. Duric-6.5, P. Fenech-6, N. Gulan-5, U. Ljubomirac-7, M. Zlatkovic-6, S. Jalu-5 (72 B. Kaljevic), N. Frendo-5 (46 G. Camilleri-6), A. Andrejic-7 (77 A. Bradshaw).

Referee: Glen Tonna.

Yellow cards: Ljubomirac, Effiong.

BOV player of the match: Aleksa Andrejic (Balzan).

Balzan took the field for yesterday’s encounter with Sirens knowing that other than a victory would seriously jeopardise their hopes of staying up.

So, when Sirens came from behind to score two goals in four minutes, just before the half hour mark, few would have predicted a victory for Balzan.

However, Balzan fought to live another day with a silky second-half showing, heralded by Ljubomirac and Andrejic.

The relegation issue will sure go down to the wire irrespective of Santa Lucia’s result against Sliema Wanderers today.

Sirens came into the match safe in the knowledge that nothing untoward would endanger their position after dispelling their relegation fears with a 5-0 mauling of Sliema.

With Sirens showing commitment and determination from the outset, Balzan struggled in the first half to get to grips with the pace set by their opponents.

Balzan’s effort could not be translated into anything tangible in the opening minutes except for Milan Duric’s header, but Sean Mintoff was on spot to parry the ball.

Yet their bright opening was rewarded by a Marcus Grima goal.

The young midfielder sensed a gap in the Sirens’ defence on a corner-kick and the midfielder executed in exquisite fashion with a measured angled drive.

Sirens managed to draw level immediately when Vitor Vieira placed low inside the right-hand corner.

Balzan were in for another shock four minutes later. Vieira was allowed space on the edge of the box. He served Marios Lomis who rushed in from the blind side to shoot behind Rudy Briffa.

The Reds’ only reply came just before half-time when Mintoff pulled off a splendid double save to deny Jalo Suleiman and Andrejic.

Yet Balzan struggled to find another gear against a team with nothing at stake other than prestige.

Barely had the second half started when Milan Duric exploited his dead ball skills to lift the ball over the defensive wall and beyond Mintoff’s reach and into the net.

Balzan remained with Ljubomirac and Grima bossing the midfield.

Sirens were forced to pull more men into deep positions. They could do nothing to prevent Andrejic from putting his team ahead.

He ran inside the area to meet an inch-perfect cross from Ljubomirac before heading into the net past a rooted Mintoff.

At death, Bojan Kalejvic tapped in goal no.4 from Ljubomirac’s cross, but referee Glenn Tonna annulled his effort.

The three points were assured nonetheless as the referee soon after ended the match.


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