All Square between Hibs and Balzan

Hibernians ………..1

Balzan ………………1

(H.T 1-0)

Yesterday’s top clash between the champions and the current Knock Out winners ended all square in front of a fairly sized crowd at the Corradino Pavillion.

In an entertaining match, Balzan showed character to fight back and earn a point, while Hibernians maintained their unbeaten record in the league.

The result means that Balzan finished  joint second with Luxol, six points adrift from the Paolites.

In the first half, Hibernians were a superior outfit as Balzan tried to fight back.

But in the second half, it was a different story as Balzan were threatening the Hibs defence even with the introduction of the flying keeper.

The Paolites were getting  into the Balzan fort where keeper Farrugia excelled with some excellent saves.

On eight minutes, Hibernians went close from a drive by Carlos Lopez but Farrugia denied the Brazilian striker.

Thirty seconds later it was his compatriot Celino Alves who fired a shot from outside the semi-circle with the ball finishing high.

Hibernians were raging forward as on nine minutes captain Xavier Saliba had his shot going wide.

After ten minutes, Balzan went close when Dobre passed to Raducu who tried his luck with a shot from the edge of the area, but it just went over.

The match was becoming livelier as Hibernians were awarded a free shot taken by Saliba but keeper Farrugia denied the Paolites’ captain.

Dobre had two consecutive shots towards the Hibs goal but both were turned into corner by the Paolites’ agile keeper.

Forty-eight seconds before the break, Hibs surged ahead as referee Franco Cachia awarded a second consecutive free shot after Balzan’s seventh foul.

Jose Lopez made no mistake to put his team ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balzan went on the offensive at the start of the second half, but it was Hibernians who threatened first as Nicholas Farrugia, between Balzan’s goalposts, denied Celino Alves.

On the other end, Raducu took advantage of a defensive blunder but Christian Cassar denied the Romanian with a brilliant save.

Balzan were unlucky not to level the matters as the same Raducu hit the post on 24 minutes.

Despite all this, the goal was in the air as a fantastic Emil Raducu advances menacingly  and gave to Gabriel Dobre who tapped in to make it 1-1.  

On 27 minutes, Glenn Bonello was superb to clear off the line a Celino Alves shot.

 Christian Cassar was kept busy on 30 minutes when he had to repel two consecutive shots by Bonello and Del Re.

Now it was Balzan that were threatening the Paolites rearguard as their coach Gabriel Dobre opted for the flying keeper to keep their high pressure.

Two minutes from the end, Clint Cope lost an incredible occasion when his dipper finished just wide.

Despite the continuous pressure, Hibernians kept their cool and obtained a result that helped them keep  their unbeaten record.

Now both sides look carefully at the Championship play offs as Balzan face Luxol while Hibs play against San Gwann in a double header to be  played next Tuesday and Friday.

             Hibs : Christian Cassar, Melvin Borg, Jesmond Micallef, Xavier Saliba, David Bobokhidze, Cedric        Sciberras, Brian Baldacchino, Mark Zammit, Kurt Bartolo, Celino Alves, Andrew Cohen, Darren Agius

       Coach: Kevin Mifsud

Balzan: Nicholas Farrugia, Gabriel Dobre, Andrea Dan, Glenn Bonello, Reuben Grech, Matthew Xerxen, Giancarlo Sammut, Christian Wismayer, Nicola del Re, Jovica Milijic, Rennie Tanti, Emil Raducu, Clint Cope, Carlos Scicluna.

Coach: Gabriel Dobre

Referee 1: Franco Cachia

Referee 2:Jude Amin Utulu

Referee 3: David Balzan

Time-Keeper: Stephen Vella