Balzan’s Brazilians torment Melita
Amateurs fail to recover from Conceicao’s early opener
Conceicao 14; Pedrinho 33, 75, Elton 85
Speculation about Pedrinho’s on-and-off move to Valletta may have sparked fears among the Balzan fans about the player’s commitment to their team’s cause but such concerns were emphatically dismissed yesterday.
After hitting a late winner in a 2-1 defeat of Qormi, Pedrinho underlined his importance to the team with a brace as Balzan outclassed Melita to stay in the hunt for a top-six berth.
Pedrinho was not the only Brazilian to steal the show yesterday as Renato Conceicao and Elton scored the other goals that consigned Melita to their first defeat in four games.
Balzan’s initial formation showed no changes from the 2-1 victory over Qormi.
Pedrinho was handed roaming duties behind chief striker Elton in Balzan’s 3-4-3 formation.
Patxi Salinas, the Melita coach, also kept faith with the same team that started the 1-0 defeat of Ħamrun Spartans.
Balzan didn’t have to wait long to break the deadlock as, in their first dangerous foray into Melita’s half, they hit the target.
Elton made a strong run down the left before whipping in a cross that eluded the Melita defence. The ball dropped at the feet of Conceicao and the Brazilian accelerated past Ivan Tufegdzic before firing past Guillermo Gabilondo Garcia.
A period of fragmented football followed with Melita toiling to make headway in attack.
Close to the half-hour mark, Melita survived another scare when Gabilondo failed to hold the ball after being put under pressure by Elton as the two contested a high ball. Despite having his back to the Amateurs’ goal, Elton still managed to chip the ball over the defenders but his effort landed wide.
Pedrinho punished more hesitant defending by Melita on 33 minutes. Receiving a pass from Elton, he embarked on a dazzling run that took him past a host of players before ramming the ball home.
It was not before the 41st minute that Melita recorded their first attempt at goal when Cabanillas’s drive was dealt with by Daniel Miguelez Martinez.
Salinas made a double substitution at the start of the second half as newly-signed Spanish striker Jorge Veloso and Karl Vella Petroni replaced Tufegdzic and Jean Pierre Attard respectively.
Melita threatened to pull one back on 56 minutes when Cabanillas chested the ball towards Micallef whose angled drive flashed just wide of the far post.
Despite Melita’s improved efforts, Balzan played the more flowing football with Elton, Pedrinho and Caruana launching a series of rapid breaks.
With 18 minutes remaining, Pedrinho poked wide after being teed up by Caruana and a minute later, Melita were reduced to 10 men when Luke Sammut, who had just replaced Tobias Terpougoff, was shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Caruana.
Balzan meted out instant punishment on Melita as, 15 minutes from time, Pedrinho drove home from close range after Conceicao’s piledriver had cannoned off the bar.
Five minutes from time, Balzan made it 4-0 thanks to Elton who raced into the box before beating Gabilondo with a low shot.
In the dying stages, Balzan’s Martinez did well to beat away Cabanillas’s drive after the latter received from Micallef.
Balzan substitute Malcolm Licari then spurned a glorious chance when hitting wide from point blank distance.
Melita: G. Gabilondo-4, M. Borg-4, M.R. Sierra Camacho-4, I. Tufegdzic-4 (46 M. Veloso-4), G. Gribbon-5, M. Martin-4, J.P. Attard-4 (46 K. Vella Petroni-4), A. Caruana Scicluna-5, T. Terpougoff-4 (69 L. Sammut), L. Micallef-6, D. Cabanillas-5.5.
Balzan: D.M. Martinez-6, D. Grima-6.5 (88 M. Licari), Y. Camilleri-6, S. Giglio-6, J. Francica-6, J. Pace-7, A. Agius-6 (79 J. Borg), R. Conceicao-7, C. Caruana-7 (85 B. Bondin), Pedrinho-7.5, Elton-7.
Referee Andrè Arciola.
Yellow cards Camacho; Pedrinho; Camilleri; Agius; Micallef.
Red card Sammut (M) 73.
BOV player of the match Pedrinho (Balzan).