Day 04: Valletta 2 Birkirkara 2 Published on: 15-10-2010

Citizens and Stripes share spoils in a 2-2 result

Birkirkara winger Trevor Cilia scored a fantastic goal 10 minutes from the end to salvage a point for the champions as their first league meeting with rivals Valletta ended two-all.

The Citizens looked well on course for their third victory of the season when, leading 2-1, they were awarded a penalty but Manuel Bartolo’s save from Denni’s shot filled Birkirkara with renewed confidence and set the stage for their late rally.

Scoring chances came thick and fast in a hugely entertaining first half as these two tore into each other.

The game was less than two minutes old when Valletta went close to taking the lead but Manuel Bartolo, the Birkirkara goalkeeper, parried away Denni’s effort after Terrence Scerri had dispossessed the returning Nikola Vukanac in the box.

Denni was evident again on five minutes with a fiercely-struck volley from long range that sailed wide. Valletta were the better team in the early stages.

Omonigo Temile threatened to breach Birkirkara’s resistance with a rising effort that was deflected over the bar.

The hitherto lethargic Stripes had Bartolo to thank for keep them on level terms as the on-loan Msida goalkeeper twice denied Denni as well as an effort from Terrence Scerri.

Birkirkara’s evening appeared to take a turn for the worse when injuries forced Shaun Bajada and Rowen Muscat to abandon the field but just as Terrence Vella was preparing to replace the latter,
the Stripes struck.

Running on to a through-pass from Michael Galea, Trevor Cilia nipped behind the Valletta defence
and planted the ball into the net.

It took Valletta three minutes to gain an equaliser, Kevin Sammut scoring with a low diagonal shot after Ian Azzopard’s cut-back from the left found the City midfielder unmarked.

Bartolo thwarted Denni again after the latter had swapped passes with Roderick Briffa but six minutes from half-time, the Citizens forged ahead for the first time in the game.

Jamie Pace was at hand to rifle the ball into the net at the far post after Birkirkara had failed to clear Sammut’s dangerous cross from a free-kick.

Andrew Hogg, the Valletta goalkeeper, did well to push out Emiliano Lattes’s swerving free-kick while, at the other end, Scerri hit wide with a diagonal effort. Valletta should have increased their lead six minutes into the second half when, in a fast counter-attack, Denni released Scerri but the latter sent his effort just wide of the near post.

On 65 minutes, Valletta had a great chance to widen their lead as they were awarded a penalty for Paul Fenech’s push on Denni but the latter’s low shot from the spot was stopped by Bartolo.

Birkirkara protested for a penalty after Galea appeared to have been pulled by Azzopardi but referee Alan Mario Sant dismissed their claims.

With 18 minutes remaining, Simon Zahra, who had come on for the injured Bajada in the first half,
was first to Buhagiar’s cross but his half-volley ended just wide.

The unyielding Stripes made it two-all 10 minutes from time thanks to a brilliant goal from Cilia who beat Hogg with a thunderous first-timer from outside the box. Cilia was named BOV player of the match.

VALLETTA: A. Hogg, R. Dos Santos, K. Sammut, J. Caruana, I. Azzopardi, S. Borg, O. Temile (D. Falzon), J. Pace, D. Rocha Dos Santos (I. Zammit), T. Scerri, R. Briffa (E. Agius)

BIRKIRKARA: M. Bartolo, J. Zerafa, N. Vukanac, M. Galea, R. Harding, P. Fenech, T. Cilia (T. Paris), R. Muscat (T. Vella), E. Lattes, S. Bajada (S. Zahra), A. Buhagiar.

BOV Premier 2010/11
Date: 15-10-10     Time: 19:30    Venue: National Stadium

Scorers: 24'  T. Cilia (B), 27' K. Sammut (V), 39' J. Pace, 80' T. Cilia (B)

Yellow Cards: I. Zammit, A. Hogg, J. Pace.

Man of match: Trevor Cilia (Birkirkara)

Referee: Alan Mario Sant