Day 7 Valletta 1 Birkirkara 1 Published on: 06-10-2012
Birkirkara halted Valletta's 100 per cent start to the season as they held the champions to a one-all draw in a combative encounter at the National Stadium.
The Stripes were worth their point as they produced a solid display that had Valletta in difficulty, especially in the second half during which Paul Zammit's team enjoyed a slight edge over their opponents who struggled to overcome the half-time substitution of striker Michael Mifsud.
The result left Valletta on top with 19 points, one ahead of Birkirkara who look to have what it takes to challenge for the title this season.
Seven minutes into the game, William Barbosa, the Valletta midfielder, hit a strong shot which was pushed away by Reuben Gauci, the Birkirkara goalkeeper.
Valletta then protested for a penalty when Michael Mifsud tumbled to the ground after colliding with Nikola Vukanac but referee Trustin Farrugia Cann saw nothing wrong.
The game produced little of note before Gabriel, the Valletta midfielder, forced Gauci into a save with a diagonal effort on 27 minutes. The ball soared into the air before Vukanac headed clear.
Two minutes later, Valletta grabbed the lead. Gabriel supplied a great cross from the right and Roderick Briffa planted a firm header past Gauci much to the delight of the City fans. But, Valletta's lead didn't last long as Birkirkara levelled on 32 minutes.
Barbosa was robbed of the ball on the edge of the box and from the ensuing melee, Paul Fenech hit home from close range.
Seven minutes from half-time, Mark Miller had to make his first substitution as Dyson Falzon limped off after suffering an injury. He was replaced by Edmond Agius.Just before half-time, Barbosa went close with a swerving free-kick which flashed wide of the far post.
At the start of the second half, Kurt Magro replaced Mifsud with Brazilian Gabriel pushed into the striker's role.Four minutes in to the second half, Borg headed wide from Agius's corner.
Birkirkara were quick to break on the counter as Shola Shodiya Haruna ran clear before squaring to Jhonnattann who shot straight at the on-rushing Manuel Bartolo. Gauci then blocked Denni's low strike and Jhonnattann's free-kick flashed wide of a post a minute past the hour.
Twenty minutes from time, Birkirkara had a good opportunity when Haruna released Jhonnattan but his shot was blocked by Bartolo.Paul Zammit, the Birkirkara coach, brought on Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza for Ryan Camenzuli.
With 11 minutes left, Birkirkara were dangerous when Jhonnattann's swinging corner was met by Vukanac but the latter's firm header was tipped away by Bartolo.
Harun Shola was named BOV player of the match.
VALLETTA - M. Bartolo, S. Borg, J. Caruana, J. Gabriel Da Silva (L. Da Silva Almeida), R. Briffa, R. Barreto Da Rocha Filho, M. Mifsud (K. Magro), D. Dos Santos, D. Falzon (E. Agius), S. Bajada, W. Barbosa.
BIRKIRKARA - R. Gauci, P. Fenech, E. Herrera, H. Shola Shodiya (Z. Muscat), N. Vukanac, J. Zerafa, A. Mendoza Corujo, R. Camenzuli (J. P. Mifsud Triganza), G. Sciberras, R. Muscat, J. Benies De Conceicao (J. Dos Reis).
Date: 06-10-12 Time: 17.00 Venue: National Stadium
Scorers: 29' Roderick Briffa (V), 32' Paul Fenech (B)
Yellow Cards: G. Sciberras, M. Mifsud, R. Camenzuli, E. Agius
Man of Match: Harun Shola Shodiya (B)
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann