Shock win for Floriana
Floriana 1Hibernians 0
Floriana pulled off a shock win over Hibernians this evening as Michael Woods’ troops had the chances to win and jump at the top of the standings.
Under the guidance of Gary Howard, Floriana rode their luck at times, particularly during a Hibernians purple patch early in the second half when they hit the Floriana frame twice.
The Greens were fastest out of the blocks as Mark Spiteri took just 70 seconds to price open the opposing defence only to see his rising shot rattle the post. Yet the offside flag went up and his effort was ruled out for offside.
Branco made an instant impact on the game as when the Brazilian striker, served by Igor Coronado, set on a mazy run, danger beckoned again for Hibernians.
The Brazilian advanced unimpeded and evaded the challenge of onrushing Mario Muscat. He looked odds-on to score but his grounder was cleared off the line by Zoran Levnaic.
The Paolities had been rather pedestrian up to that moment and this episode served to wake them from their slumber as Michael Woods urged his players to increase the temp of their play.
It was not before the 17th minute that Hibernians finally managed a decent attempt, a long-range grounder from Clayton Failla which Tony Warner pushed around the post.
This signalled the start of a spell of Hibernians pressure, and, five minutes later, Jean Paul Farrugia got his head on a searching Cohen cross but he did not make the contact he would have wanted and the ball dropped harmlessly off Warner’s far post.
After 26 minutes, Warner was called upon again to make a magnificent save from a rasping Jackson Lima’s direct free-kick that had both power and precision.
A few moments later, Cohen displayed all his sprinting skills as he drifted down the length of the field, exchanged the ball in a swift one-two move with Farrugia before shooting, only for Warner to produce a smart save.
Five minutes from half-time, it was Floriana who threatened to break the stalemate when a stranded Muscat was relieved to see the ball drop just wide of his near post as Trevor Cilia’s piledriver almost skimmed the upright.
And just before half-time, Floriana drew the first blood. Branco was instrumental as the striker showed great footwork to force his way past Rodolfo Soares before he was blocked into a corner.
From the ensuing kick, Cilia chipped the ball towards the unmarked Coronado at the far post who powered a header behind Muscat.
The Paolities began the second half in a purposeful, attacking vein.
They were awarded a free-kick on the left and Cohen delivered an inviting ball inside the area where Farrugia found space to head the ball onto the upright. Soares did well to reach the rebound but headed over the bar.
In the 64th minute, the Paolities were once again left to rue their ill-luck, as for the second time, they hit the goal frame. Cohen lifted the ball towards Soares who headed against the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Nine minutes from time, Floriana supporters thought they scored again when Nwoko floated an excellent pass to Branco but Muscat showed fine reflexes to keep out the Brazilian’s effort.
In the dying minutes, Dias tricked past Gary Roberts, the defence, however blocked the blast gallantly at which point, the Greens knew it would be a famous night for Floriana.