Sliema deal blow on Birkirkara
Sliema Wanderers 1Woods 43
Birkirkara’s Premier League title challenge may have just run aground after suffering a defeat at the hands of Sliema Wanderers.
The early exchanges were bereft of constructive football as the two sides struggled to find their passing game. Birkirkara enjoyed a distinct edge, possession wise but the efforts were undone at the front.
Glenn Zammit made his first intervention of the afternoon on 19 minutes when he dived low to stop a central header by Gareth Sciberras from Haruna’s cross from the right.
Just after the half hour mark, Jhonnattann interrupted the boredom with a thunderbolt from free-kick that flew over the bar.
Six minutes later, Alex Muscat bore down the left flank but his sweetly-struck drive from the distance was saved by Gauci. Along-range drive from Fenech after 38 minutes signalled the end of spell of sustained pressure from the Stripes.
In fact, three minutes from the break, Glenn Zammit’s long-kick flew over a sea of yellow-and-red shirts to reach the opponents’ area and into the path of Woods who beat the offside trap, rounded the goalkeeper to deposit the ball into an empty net.
With the midfield still congested, Birkirkara’s propensity to made inroads down the flanks was exposing the Wanderers’ vulnerability as Jhonnattann broke free down the right flank but Gatt Baldacchino cleared the danger, moments later.In the 76th minute, Jhonnattann’s looping free-kick from the distance appeared to be flowing dangerously towards goal but Zammit leapt to touch the ball away.
But two minutes later, Birkirkara’s faltering hopes of an equaliser looked all but over when Haruana was given the marching order for his second-bookable offence.
On the other hand, the Wanderers maintained a high tempo till the final whistle.
And moments later, substitute Ruggiero should have applied the killer blow when Bajada freed him in the box but Gauci dashed out his goalto close him down. At death, Bajada unleashed a fiery shot which the Birkirkara goalkeeper tipped over the woodwork.
Soon after, Zerafa gave away possession cheaply in front of the Birkirkara box but Matias Muchardi’s effort was blocked by Gauci as Sliema legitimated their win, finishing the match on attacking mode.