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Strickland’s last-gasp goal rescues point for Sliema against Balzan

Sliema's Jean Borg charges forward against Balzan. Photo: Domenic Borg

Young Nicholas Strickland came off the bench to head home a dramatic equaliser and hand Sliema Wanderers a crucial point against Balzan at the National Stadium.

It looked as though Balzan were set to secure a priceless victory in their battle to avoid the drop after the Reds took a deserved lead through George Blackwood.

But the Wanderers kept battling and ensured they avoided defeat when Strickland headed home the equaliser.

It looked as though Sliema were set for a frustrating afternoon when they fell behind after 37 minutes of play.

Balzan winger Aleksa Andreijic sent a low cross inside the area. Sliema goalkeeper Rashed Al Tumi and Jake Engerer bumped into each other, paving the way for George Blackwood to deposit the ball into an empty net.

After the break, Sliema tried to step up their game and coach Paul Zammit brought on several attacking players in a bid to change the tide of the match but Balzan looked to hang on to the win.

But that all change in the third minute of stoppage time.

Geoffrey Acheampong’s cross was met by Strickland who headed the ball past Rudi Briffa, to the delight of the Sliema clan.

With this result, Sliema moved on 43 points, six clear of fourth-placed Marsaxlokk.

On the other hand, Balzan moved on 30 points, six clear of Mosta, and needing a win to assure themselves of staying in the top-flight for another season.

Nicholas Strickland celebrates his goal against Balzan. Photo: Sliema Wanderers

BALZAN           1

Blackwood 38

SLIEMA WANDERERS  1

Strickland 90

BALZAN

R. Briffa, A. Prates, S. Arab, T. Caruana, J. Busuttil, R. Michibuchi, N. Zerjal, N. Braunovic (85 B. Hili), O. Rommens. A. Andrejic (81 O. Awosanya), G. Blackwood.

SLIEMA WANDERERS

R. Al Tumi, J. Borg, J. Engerer (68 D. Kouao), V. Plut (80 S. Gomes), M. Beerman, J. Arthur (87 J. Strickland),  G. Alcino, N. Frendo (80 D. Kondrakov), G. Acheampong, L. Micallef (87 E. Agius), M. Awad.

Referee Alex Johnson.

Yellow cards: Michibuchi.

BIRKIRKARA    2

Ciolacu 43 pen.; Maia

GUDJA UNITED 0

BIRKIRKARA

M. Zapytowski, E. Pepe, P.Mbong, K. Zammit (46 M. Maia), A. Satariano (66 A. Zammit), E. Pena Beltre, N. Micallef, A. Coppola, E. Sarpong, S. Zibo, A. Ciolacu (66 O. Elouni).

GUDJA UNITED

J. Pisani, S. Attard, R. Muchardi, J. Quintero (87 J. Cutajar), M. Conti, L. Gatt, R. Nanitelamio, Z. Grech (87 E. Gentile), A. Friggieri (71 G. Ime), M. Esposito, G. Zammit (83 G. Lorenzoni).

Referee D. Portelli.

Yellow cards Conti, Micallef.

Birkirkara kept alive their flickering hopes of a top-four finish when they eased past already-relegated Gudja United at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

The match turned out into a lively affair with both sides creating opportunities to forge ahead.

However, once Andrei Ciolacu fired the Stripes ahead from a penalty two minutes from the break, there was never a route back for the Southerners.

The introduction of Maxuel Maia on the change of ends proved to be a masterstroke for coach Jose Borg as the Brazilian hammered home the second goal to seal the points.

With the win, Birkirkara remained sixth, four points adrift of fourth-placed Marsaxlokk.

Standings provided by Sofascore

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