The Malta Independent 20 October 2019, Sunday

BOV Premier League: Faria second half strike helps Balzan return to winning form

Henry Brincat Saturday, 5 October 2019, 16:56 Last update: about 14 days ago

Balzan             1
Gudja U.          0 

BalzanS. Mintoff, A. Loof, A. Kosoric, N. Sljivic, S. Pisani, S. Bezzina, A. Effiong, I. Bozovic, S. Dimic, R. Correa (R. Scicluna 79), A. Faria (Z. Grech 88) 

GudjaT. Aquilina, J. Bondin, D. Grima (T. Al Mahrooqi 64), R. Winchester, G. Mensah (PP Sammut 83), A. De Barros, H. Vella, L. Cremona ( MA Jimenez 72), JA Bolanos, J. Grioli, AR Miranda

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Referee:  S. Pace

Asst. refs: M. Scerri, I. Galea

4th official: T. Farrugia Cann

Scorers: A. Faria 60,

Yellow cards: L. Cremona 46, J. Bondin 68, J. Bolanos 69, I. Bozovic 69, S. Mintoff 90, R. Scicluna 90

BOV Player of the match: R. Correa.

TMI Top 3: 1. R. Correa, 2. A. Effiong, 3. G. Mensah 

A 60th minute strike from Arthur Faria helped Balzan to beat Gudja and return to winning form.

These were three good points for Balzan who had suffered three consecutive defeats and lost another two points in a draw in the previous four encounters. They have now moved to a healthier placing in the standings on 7 points from six matches.

For Gudja, this was their second consecutive defeat after that against Floriana. They have therefore remained without a win, though they have four points from four draws.

Balzan took the field without suspended midfielder Paul Fenech. Gudja had all players at coach Josef Mansueto's disposal. Balzan also had regular goalie Kristjan Naumovski missing from the line-up. His place was taken by Sean Mintoff.

The first half was mostly yawn-laden with a lot of midfield play and with neither side creating any clearcut chances.

Balzan held the edge in midfield and in the early stages they seemed to be laying siege on the Gudja fort though they never threatened seriously to score.

Having withstood the onslaught, Gudja came back into the match and started sharing the exchanges, but found it really tough to get past a well organised Balzan defence.

In the second half play improved a little, but Balzan perhaps merited to score what proved to be the winner as they showed more initiative than their opponents who only pressed hard to obtain an equaliser in the last 10 minutes.

In the 12th minute, Gabriel Mensah was involved in a fine personal action but his final angled effort passed across goal with no colleague in sight to nod the ball in.

Three minutes later, at the other end, a Correa cross was blocked to a corner by Bolanos while soon after, the same Correa had a good effort blocked by goalie Aquilina with the ball then being cleared to a corner.

In the 18th minute, from another Correa cross, it was Augustine Loof who had a header finishing against the side netting.

In the 21st minute, from another Correa cross, Effiong saw his first timer blocked by a defender to corner.

On 25 minutes, as Balzan maintained their ascendancy, it was Stefan Dimic who tried his luck from outside the area, but his shot went over the bar.

In the 31st minute, Gudja goalie Sean Mintoff did well to rush out of his charge to clear the ball as Mensah threatened to make the most of a bad defensive clearance.

The second half started on a slow note and in the 56th minute Stefan Dimic received a long ball and advanced into the Gudja area only to see goalie Aquilina block his effort.

Balzan were not to be denied and on the hour they were rewarded when off an Effiong low cross, it was Arthur Faria who controlled the ball well and beat goalie Aquilina.

In the 67th minute, Correa was thwarted by Aquilina who palmed out his low shot.

In the final minutes, Gudja threw everything in attack to try and save a point, but Balzan were solid at the back and goalie Mintoff was never seriously threatened.

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