A second half comeback earned Luxol a precious point in the FXDD Premier Division clash against Balzan that helped them keep both the second place in the table and the unbeaten record in the league.
It was a match that was heading into Balzan’s favour after a 5-1 advantage. But Luxol fought back and fairly got the draw to preserve the one point advantage towards their opponents in the table.
Prior to kick off, Luxol’s player-coach, Florin Anton was presented with a memento by club president Mario Vella as a thanksgiving for his time at Balzan last season.
Both sets of teams had the luxury of fielding some quality players. Balzan had Romanian internationals Emil Raducu and Gabriel Dobre as well as Bulgarian Boycho Marev playing in the initial five.
Player-coach Florin Anton decided to start with Brazilian William Barbosa and keeper Adrian Attard deputising Malta international Bjorn Vassallo who felt sick .
Balzan had the backing of their supporters who turned in numbers to encourage their favourite team.
The match had a thrilling start with Luxol threatening the Balzan rearguard as Dean Gera’s shot was saved by keeper Farrugia.
But two minutes later, Balzan broke the deadlock and what a goal! Romanian international Emil Raducu received from Dobre and after stopping the ball with a first timer put the ball past Adrian Attard.
Luxol reacted immediately and restored parity through Ibrahim Tarik after stealing a ball from a Balzan player.
As the clock struck the 13th minute, Balzan went close through a Dobre shot but Luxol’s custodian Adrian Attard reacted with a great save.
The match proved to be intensive and one minute later Balzan found their second goal with Emil Raducu performing a solo action before finding the net with a fierce shot.
Dobre again went close but his shot finished wide.
Thirty-four seconds from the end a William Barbosa freekick was ably saved by keeper Farrugia to deny the equalizer for Luxol.
In the second half, Balzan opened well and found the net again through player-coach Gabriel Dobre who put the ball into the net after an Emil Raducu shot.
In the space of thirty-seconds Dobre and Raducu scored two goals to make it 5-1 with Luxol’s rearguard completely shattered.
Luxol reduced the arrears in the space of 45 seconds through William Barbosa and George Frendo to give some fresh hopes for their side.
6:49 from the end Luxol scored again when former Qormi player George Frendo dribbled Matthew Xerxen to deposit home and make it 5-4.
Luxol went close for the equalizer after Eslam Khalifa’s shot was well saved by Xerxen.
Now Luxol were pressing forward and it was no surprise that they restored parity when Florin Anton’s shot passed through several legs after finishing into the net.
Two minutes from the end, the post denied Barbosa the winning goal.
The draw left everything as it was in the table with Luxol satisfied to keep the second position in the standings and Balzan a bit disappointed to lose two points that could have got them nearer to the leadership.
Balzan: Nicholas Farrugia, Boycho Marev, Glenn Bonello, Gabriel Dobre, Nicola Del Re, Jovica Milijic, Christian Wismayer, Matthew Xerxen, Adrian Lia, Clint Cope, Rennie Tanti, Emil Andrei Raducu, Carlos Scicluna.
Luxol: Jose Da Silva, Karl Saliba, Dean Gera, William Barbosa, George Frendo, Noel Bray, Adrian Attard, Eslam Khalifa, Florin Anton, Ibrahim Tarek, Bjorn Vassallo
Referee 1: Franco Cachia
Referee 2: Jude Amin Utulu
Time-Keeper: Mark O’Neill
Yellow Cards: Christian Wismayer, Glenn Bonello (B), Ibrahim Tarek (L)