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Valletta in third consecutive draw

Photo: Jason Borg

Photo: Jason Borg

VALLETTA-1, SLIEMA WANDERERS-1

Valletta failed to end their winless run this evening after being held to a 1-1 draw by Sliema Wanderers.

It was the third consecutive 1-1 draw for the misfiring Citizens who stayed top on 25 points, five ahead of Sliema and Birkirkara with the latter having a game in hand.

Valletta enjoyed a great start as they took lead inside the opening two minutes. Shaun Bajada sent in a fine cross from the right and William Barbosa headed the ball over Henry Bonello, the Sliema goalkeeper.

The champions should have doubled their advantage on eight minutes when Barbosa sent Ryan Fenech through but the Valletta midfielder lobbed high.

With Valletta failing to maintain their early momentum, Sliema came more into the picture but it was the Citizens who came close to a second goal but Denni's rising shot smacked against the crossbar.

A mistake by Valletta gifted Sliema an opening as Muchardi dispossessed Denni before passing to Luigi Ruggiero whose low strike was palmed away by Manuel Bartolo. Ivan Woods was first to the loose ball but fired over.

Woods was then stretchered off after aggravating a thigh injury. Valletta threatened again when Barbosa's effort from just outside the box sailed just wide of the far post but in first-half stoppage time, Sliema equalised.

Muchardi's cross from a corner soared towards the goalmouth and Branislav Timotic's firm header had the better of Bartolo.

Scoring chances were conspicuous by their absence in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. On 67 minutes, Fenech's cross from the right was deflected towards Denni whose header was saved by Bonello.

In the closing stages, Bonello stopped Fenech's first-time effort. Moments later, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position after bringing down Leandro just outside the box. Barbosa's free-kick came off Sliema's wall.

Valletta thought they snatched a late winner when Bajada's precise cross from the byline flew towards the unmarked Ricardo but the latter's header drew an instinctive save from Bonello.

At the other end, Sliema also threatened to take the three points when Paltemio Barbetti's shot was deflected towards Mark Scerri but the latter's header was saved by Bartolo.

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