Sliema Wanderers 0
Mosta 0

The match billed as an ultimate showdown for the remaining Europa League berth next season ended in a dour, goalless draw as Sliema Wanderers and Mosta disappointed badly, last night.

The match had a dramatic finale as Mosta first had a goal disallowed before goalkeeper Omar Borg denied the Wanderers from victory with a stoppage-time save on an Admir Vladavic penalty.

Sliema were boosted with the return of Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Paltemio Barbetti and Vladavic who all missed the 6-0 thrashing to league leaders Birkirkara last week. Up front, Ivan Woods was preferred to Trevor Cilia who had to settle for a place on the bench.

Mosta’s starting XI showed one change from the 5-0 defeat to Valletta with Antonio Carrozza replacing Bojan Kaljevic, suspended.

After only a few minutes Mosta coach Enrico Piccioni had to make his first substitution as Cristian Martins was unable to continue following an awkward fall. Diego Pereira came on for his unlucky team-mate.

Mosta had the ball in the net after 19 minutes when Manolito Micallef hit the back of the net from Rodriguez Ekani’s delivery but referee Malcolm Spiteri changed mind on his previous call after consulting the additional ref who ruled that the Mosta player had extended his arm to help the ball into the net.

Mosta held the initiative. They were denied by Glenn Zammit on 25 minutes as the Sliema keeper pushed a Gianmarco Piccioni piledriver over the bar.

Sliema did well to switch from defence to attack as Stanley Ohawuchi released Woods who cut into the box before unleashing a fierce shot that was pushed away by the alert Borg.

Mosta were seeing more of the ball and were dangerous almost each time they pushed forward. Zammit was tested again on 38 minutes, pulling off a fine save from Pereira’s acrobatic kick.

At the start of the second half, Sliema coach Alfonso Greco introduced John Mintoff to boost his side’s push from the flanks.

Their improvement was evident when Matias Muchardi served Ohawuchi whose effort was cleared off the line by Tyrone Farrugia.

At the other end, Piccioni looked out of sorts for Mosta as he wasted a couple of chances to break the deadlock.

The first came when left unmarked with just Zammit to beat. However, Piccioni dragged his shot agonisingly wide.

The next, on 66 minutes, was gilt-edged with the Italian firing badly from an inviting position inside the box.

That lack of self-belief was most evident when Piccioni missed a sitter with 11 minutes left. He controlled the ball from Micallef’s cross with ease and composure but with an open goal at his mercy, he again missed the target.

Then, a low-key match ended in mayhem when Mosta thought they had opened the score at death after Pereira bundled the ball home from an inviting Carrozza centre.

The Brazilian took off his shirt and ran to the Mosta supporters without noticing that his ‘goal’ was annulled by the referee for a handling infringement.

The Wanderers were quick to transfer the ball upfront for Ohawuchi who was tripped inside the Mosta box by Ekani.

Ekani was red carded but from the penalty Vladavic saw his effort stopped by Borg as Mosta held on for fourth place in the league standings.

Mosta: O. Borg-7, T. Farrugia-7, M. Brincat-6, I. Grech-6, R. Ekani, I. Zammit-5, R. Grech-5.5, M. Micallef-7, C. Martins (4 D. Pereira-7), A. Carrozza-6.5, G. Piccioni-4.

Sliema Wanderers: G. Zammit-7, A. Muscat-6, J. Borg-5 (46 J. Mintoff-5), M. Scerri-5 (60 T. Cilia-5), S. Ohawuchi-6, C. Gatt Baldacchino-5, I. Woods-5.5 (77 A. Xuereb), P. Barbetti-6, M. Muchardi-6.5, S. Bianciardi-5, A. Vladavic-4.5.

Referee: Malcolm Spiteri.

Yellow cards: Micallef; I. Grech; Ohawuchi; Barbetti; Bianciardi; R. Grech; Gatt Baldacchino.

Red card: Ekani (M) 90.

Missed penalty: Vladavic (S) 90+1.

BOV Player of the match: Manolito Micallef (Mosta).

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