Day 21 Valletta 2 Balzan Y. 0 Published on: 17-02-2012

Valletta beat Balzan in a low-key match to put pressure on Hibernians as they play Floriana tomorrow.

Latvian striker Aleksandrs Cekulajevs scored on his debut before Roderick Briffa's classy finish wrapped up the victory for the Lilywhites..

Valletta took the lead seven minutes later off a devastating attacking move which saw Denni pass to Mifsud who sped past the on-rushing Matthew Camilleri and then the nippy striker showed a great deal of altruism when squaring the ball for Cekulajevs who tapped the ball home for the easiest of finishes.

In the 26th minute, the Youths suffered another blow when Bondin's participation was curbed by injury when Ian Azzopardi's powerhouse finished on his face. With one goal down, Ivan Zammit decided to take the gamble, replacing the midfielder with the Nigerian striker Anthony Eviparker in a re-modelled 4-3-3.

But the match remained flat as Valletta could not string three passes together in the first half. The crowd had been treated to one shot on target from Michael Mifsud in the 38th minute which drew a routine from Camilleri and the occasional run-and-cross from Denni and Zongo which found no takers.

In an error-strewn game, the Valletta remained marginally superior. In the 58th minute, Mifsud spurned a shooting opportunity by dragging his effort wide. On the hour mark, Bledjon Guga was in the right place to head Edmond Agius's inswinger off the line. It was his last contribution to the game as the Albanian defender was shown red for his second bookable offence for a late tackle on Agius.

Despite playing with 10 men, Balzan went on the attack and Pedrinho hit the side-netting from the edge of the box.

Frustrated by his team's lame showing, Jesmond Zerafa effected his first substitution on 73 minutes, Barbosa replacing Cekulajevs. However, fears of a nervous finale for the Lilywhites supporters were dispelled when Roderick Briffa thumped a swerving shot past Camilleri and into the net to gasps around the ground.

Balzan did not throw the towel and four minutes from time. Andrew Hogg denied Pedrinho a consolation goal that their commitment merited.


VALLETTA  - A. Hogg, R. Briffa, E. Agius, D. Dos Santos (A. Effiong), J. Caruana, I. Azzopardi, O. Zongo,  S. Mady Panadetiguiri, A. Cekulajevs (W. Barbosa), S. Borg, M. Mifsud (G. Agius) .

BALZAN Y. -   M. Camilleri, R. Forace, J. Francica, J. Pace, Y. Camilleri, B. Guga, G. Bonello, P. Calcado, M. Ciantar (L. Micallef), B. Bondin (A. Eviparker), M. Deanov (M. Borg)

BOV Premier League
Date: 17-02-12     Time: 20:15    Venue: Victor Tedesco Stadium

Scorers: 14' Aleksandars Cekulajevs, 77' Roderick Briffa

Yellow Cards:  B. Guga, J. Francica, L. Micallef (B), I. Azzopardi (V)

Man of Match: Ousseni Zongo (V)

Referee: Adrian Azzopardi