Hard-fought win for Tarxien
Tarxien Rainbows 1 Rabat Ajax 0
Tarxien strengthened their grip on fourth place ahead of the championship pool with a hard-fought win over Rabat.
Gunning against a minnows Rabat Ajax who had failed to win any of their 21 premier league matches, Tarxien Rainbows looked strangely low-key. But although their performance never reached the desired standards, they deserved to win to make it a double over the Magpies.
The early exchanges produced little in the way of creative football.
But the Rainbow would have broke the ice after 15 minmutes but for a tipping save from Sean Mintoff on a Branislav Timotic from a corner by Marco Tulio.
Play continued to sway from one side to the other. Fuster whipped in a teasing cross but Armario Negrin’s glancing header went over the bar.
Four minutes later, on the other side of the pitch, Mintoff effected another fine save to smother away Andrew Agius’s thunderbolt.
The red-shirted players seized the lead from their next raid. The clock marked 24 minutes of play when the Rainbows were awarded a free-kick from an inviting position. Marco Tulio unleashed a powerful shot past the Magpies’ defensive wall and into the low corner of the net as Mintoff’s desperate dive came too late to avert the danger.
Utterly unconvincing in the opening half, Rabat started the second period in lively fashion. Three minutes into the second half, Ivan Carapic headed over from Diego Carrillo Pendas’s cross. The Ajax were also dangerous eight minutes later when the Spaniard’s free-kick from the left caused havoc in the Tarxien box.
Mintoff kept Rabat’s heads above water when just after the hour mark, he produced an excellent one-handed save to palm away Daniel Mariano Bueno’s point-blank effort after Justin Grioli’s right-wing corner had sparked a goalmouth scramble. Tarxien now drove forward with more verve. The former Ħamrun Spartans Calabretta unsettled the Rabat defence with a bursting run on the left but his attempted lob flew wide.
After 78 minutes, Bueno had another chance to put their opponents to the sword but Mintoff distinguished himeself again with a timely intervention to block the striker’s effort.
The final minutes of the match saw both teams running out of steam as Tarxien’s interest was more focused on preserving the solitary goal than trying to score more.