Hibs lose precious points
Hibernians 0Tarxien Rainbows 0
League leaders Hibernians missed out on precious points when they were held to a goalless draw against arch-rivals Tarxien Rainbows.
A victory would have confirmed the Paolities’ leadership at the beginning of the championship pool but now they will be anxious spectators at Wednesday’s match between Valletta and Floriana where a win for the former would see the champions clinch the top spot.
It was the Rainbows who seized the control of the match in the opening exchanges with Andrezinho having a goal ruled out after six minutes.
The Paolities started without their first-choice central defensive partnership of Levniac and Soares, and the makeshift pairing of Pearson and Pulis were badly exposed by the speedy Daniel Mariano Bueno.
Just past the quarter-of-hour mark when Bueno picked up possession and then, as the Paolites defence converged on him, he showed extraordinary skill and poise as he raced past Camilleri but Muscat produced an excellent one-hand save to palm away his effort.
During that spell Hibernians briefly threatened as Jackson Lima hit a swerving
shot that flew on the side-netting.
The exchanges remained brisk as both teams displayed a refreshing desire to
attack. After 34 minutes, Jean Paul Farrugia’s flick from a goalmouth melee
was easily saved by David Cassar.
While Tarxien were the quickest out of the blocks at the start of the game, it was Hibs who enjoyed a much better start in the second period. Jackson Lima went through but his stinging drive drifted across the face of goal and finished just wide.
In the 53rd minute, Muscat did well to tip away Leandro’s drive.
Four minutes later, collecting possession in his own half, Ryan Camilleri strode forward before passing to Andrew Cohen. Rather than going back to his defensive station, Camilleri surged into the area to receive Cohen’s pass but his effort was blocked by Cassar into corner.
Farrugia was left with his head in his hands after he spurned an excellent chance to seize the lead when he fired wide after 62minutes.
Moments later, Jackson Lima raced impeded but his finish was fractionally off the target.Urged on by their unflappable Cohen, Hibernians intensified their efforts.
Seven minutes from time, Farrugia’s looping effort from a wide position flew dangerously towards the Tarxien goal but Cassar tipped the ball away for a corner.
In a rare counter-attack, Andrezinho threatened to apply the killer touch but his free-kick from just outside the box finished just over the bar, two minutes from time.
Undaunted, Hibernians quickly regained the initiative. Jackson Lima came close but his goalbound shot finished off the target.