The Malta Independent 20 January 2020, Monday

BOV Premier Leauge: Birkirkara end first round with important win against Sirens

Henry Brincat Friday, 13 December 2019, 15:57 Last update: about 2 months ago

Birkirkara           2
Sirens                 0

Birkirkara: A. Hogg, E. Pepe, M. Guillaumier, M.Vella, J. Bezzina (T. Agius 75), K. Zammit, F. Falcone (M. Mifsud 34) (E. Dos Santos 46), C. Attard, CH Prado, O. Carniello, I. Ntow

Sirens: D. Cassar, R. Grech (R. Fenech 88), W. De Oliveira, R. Dos Anjos, E. Okoye, A. Borg, A. Abdullahi, Y. Tao Tagro (L. Sciberras 71), R. Romau, R. Memezes, T. Espindola

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Referee: F. Zammit

Asst refs: D. Sultana, D. Stankovic

4th official: D. Portelli

Scorers: F. Falcone 10, C. Attard 25

Yellow cards: R. Memezes 15, M. Guillaumier 20, E. Okoye 47, M. Vella 81

BoV Player of the match: I. Ntow

TMI Top 3: 1. I. Ntow, 2. C. Prado, 3. A. Abdullahi

Birkirkara yesterday ended the first round by beating 3rd placed Sirens 2-0, an important win - just their 4th in a rather disastrous first round.

Goals by Federico Falcone and Cain Attard in the first half were enough to see them through against a disappointing Sirens side, outclassed by the Stripes for most of the time.

Despite their good win, Birkirkara received a setback with injuries to Federico Falcone, Michael Mifsud and Johann Bezzina.

Sirens remain temporarily third in the standings on 24 points, while Birkirkara moved up two places to 8th on 16 points.

Birkirkara showed their intentions early as they swarmed all over their opponents in the opening phase.

They took the lead and continued to dominate and even added a second goal before the St Paul's Bay side started to hit back in an effort to get back into contention.

The Stripes played an intelligent game, controlling from the back, but they appeared to have lost much of their fire power when Falcone was injured and had to be replaced by veteran Michael Mifsud, who unfortunately also had to be replaced at the start of the second half after suffering an injury.

As for Sirens, the first half was certainly disappointing as they never were up to the standards we had become accustomed to in their opening 12 matches.

In the second half, they started incessantly on attack, but Birkirkara were well organised at the back and the Stripes only faced one anxious moment.

On their part, Birkirkara at first seemed happy just controlling their opponents, but later in the match, they contrived to miss at least three very good scoring opportunities which would have completely assured them of the three points.

After an initial bombardment on the Sirens goal which brought only four cornerkicks, the Stripes deservedly took the lead in the 10th minute when Sirens goalie David Cassar could only partially saved a close range Isaac Ntow effort and Federico Falcone was on hand to tap the ball home into the empty net.

The score became 2-0 on the 25th minute when a Cain Attard cross-shot from the edge of the area hit Sirens defender Raphael Dos Anjos and the ball finished at the back of the net.

Sirens' first attempt arrived in the 28th minute but a Memezes weak effort was easily saved by Andrew Hogg.

In the 38th minute, Sirens had a good chance when Adeshina Abdullahi set Wellington De Oliveira on the right flank, but the latter's effort went wide.

In the 42nd minute, Birkirkara went close to scoring a third goal when Ntow set Maurizio Vella, but the latter's low shot just missed the target.

In the 44th minute, Sirens threatened through an Abdullahi cross-shot, but there was no one to tap the ball home. Soon after, Memezes had a shot partially saved by Hogg. From the rebound, Abdullahi had another effort blocked by Hogg.

In the 53rd minute, Sirens threatened again when from a Ryan Grech freekick, a goalbound header by Adrian Borg was excellently turned to corner by the diving Hogg.

The Stripes missed two glorious opportunities to increase their lead on 62 minutes, when first substitute Dos Santos set Ntow in the area, but the latter hit wide with only goalie Cassar to beat. Immediately afterwards, it was Bezzina who set Dos Santos, but the latter's effort was weak and easily controlled by Cassar.

In the 67th minute, in a swift counterattack, Bezzina again found Dos Santos unmarked in the Sirens area, but goalie Cassar dived sideways to save his inswinger.

On 70 minutes, Birkirkara missed another sitter through Ntow who had his close range shot blocked by the onrushing Cassar.

Two minutes from the end, Cassar again saved his fort turning to corner in style another Dos Santos effort after an Ntow good pass.

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