SPARTANS’ SECOND DEFEAT
Tarxien Rainbows 2 (Alex da Paixao Alves 49’, Daniel Ponce de Leon Garcia)
Hamrun Spartans 1 (Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza 90’)
Tarxien Rainbows moved up a gear when it mattered most to register a second successive victory after a poor start to the season.
One interesting spectator was former Milan captain Paolo Maldini, who paid a visit to his son Christian.
Spurred on by a raucous crowd that filled every corner of their side at the Hibs Ground, the Spartans were the more adventurous side in the early stages.
Their opening flurry should have produced a goal after eight minutes when Jake Grech’s free-kick from the right was met by Garba. Much to Hamrun’s frustration, the header on the run from the Nigerian forward lacked precision and flew just off the far post.
Tarxien were prudent in the initial exchanges but having weathered Hamrun’s early burst, they gradually began to gain ground. Frances had three attempts in quick succession, although only the first one forced David Cassar, the Hamrun goalkeeper into a save. From his ensuing corner, Ebiabowei headed goalwards but his effort was hooked off the line by Garba.
Tarxien’s inclination to attack down their left flank through Alves was giving Maldini a torrid time. In 35th minute, the Brazilian, served by Frances, ran clear on that flank before floating a dangerous ball across the face of goal which found no takers.
When these two players combined again early in the second half, Tarxien seized the lead. Triston Caruana punted the ball forward, Frances exploited his speed off the mark to race past the backtracking Spartans defenders. The nippy striker served Alves who danced his way into the box before unleashing a fierce shot behind Cassar.
After 54 minutes, the Spartans fans were up on their feet when Garba rose above the Tarxien defence to give the illusion of goal as his header flashed just wide.
D’Amato withdrew Luke Sciberras, a midfielder in favour of Saturday Nanapere, a striker. But from the possibility of regaining parity, Hamrun found themselves facing a two-goal deficit. Daniel Ponce de Leon Garcia was quick to capitalise on Cassar’s costly miscontrol and stroked home in an empty net after being released through the middle by Baker.
Fifteen minutes from time, the Spartans may have got back in contention as Garba’s thunderbolt served beyond Taxien goalkeeper Philip Schranz but crashed against the post.
Hamrun pulled one back at death through Mifsud Triganza, who netted beautifully after good work initiated by Garba.
Paul Cachia – Times of Malta
TARXIEN Philip Schranz, Ebiabowei Baker (79’ Eloy Edu Nkene), Triston Caruana, Daniel Ponce de Leon Garcia, Alex Nilsson, Emerson Marcelina, Daniel Zerafa, Alex da Paixao Alves, Matthew Tabone, Kurt Zammit, Claudio Daniel Frances (65’ Dylan Micallef).
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Matthew Brincat, Luke Zahra, Christian Galdes, Sasha Borg.
Coach: Jacques Scerri
HAMRUN David Cassar, Philip Chircop, Christian Maldini, Haruna Zambuk Garba, Sergio Raphael Dos Anjos Raphael, Luke Sciberras (62’ Saturday Nanapere), Massimiliano Giusti (82’ Darren Falzon), Leandro Wallace Motta dos Santos, Jake Grech, Jorge Mesqueu Neto, Mark Anthony Borg (71’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza).
Subs not used: Matthew Farrugia, Luke Grech, Rodney Refalo, Glenn Azzopardi
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant referees: Mitchell Scerri, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Eman Grech
Yellow Cards: Jorginho, Dani Ponce, Maldini, Sergio Raphael, Falzon, Zammit
Scorers: 49’ Alex da Paixao Alves, 67′ Daniel Ponce de Leon Garcia, 90+1′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza
BOV Player of the Match: Ebiabowei Baker