Birkirkara 2 Sliema 2

A gripping game between Birkirkara and Sliema ended with a draw that left a bitter taste for all as the Stripes lost more ground from leaders Valletta as Sliema failed to earn their first win in six matches.

Mark Scerri salvaged a point for Sliema after Alan Tabone’s brace – his opener from the penalty spot followed by a sublime strike – cancelled out Obiefule’s powerful strike.

The return of Obinna Obiefule not only provided Sliema with greater endeavour but also invaluable support for the trio for Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza and it was those two forwards who combined to carve through Birkirkara’s defence after 10 minutes but Michael Fraser diverted the former Birkirkara player’s effort away into a corner.

There was no reprieve for the Scotsman, twelve minutes later when Obiefule pounced on a weak clearance by the Birkirkara rearguard to fire Sliema ahead with an unstoppable shot past Farser.

Birkirkara hit back immediately, three minutes later albeit in controversial circumstances when Alan Tabone found himself in a shooting position but Clifford Gatt Baldacchino threw himself in the way of the shot and try to block with his extended right-foot.

However, referee Glenn Tonna adjudged the Sliema defender to have fouled. The Wanderers were angered by the referee’s decision as Gatt Baldacchino did not seem to have made any contact with the Birkirkara forward. The same player got up and duly converted the spot-kick to equalise.

Birkirkara sensed Sliema’s upset and they went ahead three minutes later with a flash of genius by Tabone. The striker found himself with time and space but still required plenty of skill to produce a wonderful lob over goalkeeper with superbly executed goal that drew gasps from the Stripes crowd.

But Sliema emerged with a new sense of urgency and purpose and were rewarded with an equaliser inside five minutes when Mark Scerri scored with a simple tap-in as the midfielder went at full stretch to meet Obiefule’s left-wing cross.

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