Leaders Għajnsielem suffered their first league defeat in their penultimate match after going down 3-1 to Kerċem Ajax to miss the chance of securing the title before their direct clash with Xew-kija Tigers this weekend.
With three points separating the leading duo, a draw would be enough for Għajnsielem to be crowned champions on Sunday but victory for Xewkija would force a decider.
The Greens’ win over the Blacks was fully deserved.
They almost surprised their more-quoted opponents in the first minute but a ‘goal’ by Claudio Antunes was disallowed.
Play was quite balanced for most of the first half as Għajnsielem found it difficult to convert their territorial supremacy into scoring opportunities.
Nevertheless, the leaders managed to open the scoring on 47 minutes thanks to a low shot from Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza.
The Blacks lost composure as Kerċem embarked on a determined reaction to level terms.
And two goals from Antunes turned the result in Kerċem’s favour. The Brazilian levelled on 57 minutes following a fine solo move and, six minutes later, he beat goalkeeper Franklin Vella from a free-kick.
Għajnsielem tried to hit back but efforts from Mifsud Triganza and Dhonatan Santos Da Hora were stopped by keeper Adrian Parnis.
To make matters worse for the Blacks, they suffered a setback five minutes from time when player-coach Shaun Bajada was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Kerċem then made sure of victory with a third goal on the stroke of time, Andrew Mizzi hitting past the goalkeeper after receiving from Antunes.
Defending champions Xewkija profited from Għajnsielem’s slip-up to collect three priceless points following a 4-1 win over Oratory Youths.
Xewkija opened a three-goal lead with strikes from by Dene Shields (17), Thiago Melo Dos Santos (34) and John Camilleri (70).
Oratory substitute Manwel Cordina reduced the arrears 13 minutes from time.
Xewkija’s Daniel Bogdanovic had a goal disallowed for offside but the Tigers scored their fourth in the third minute of stoppage time through Shields.
In another top-flight game, relegated St Lawrence Spurs ended their campaign on a better note after clinching their first league victory at the expense of SK Victoria Wanderers.
The game was scheduled for last weekend only to be abandoned after just seven minutes due to a power failure at the Gozo Stadium with the Wanderers leading through Predrag Dordevic.
But, when the game was replayed on Monday at Kerċem Ajax Stadium, St Lawrence won the encounter 1-0 thanks to an early Jason Theuma goal.
Xagħra Utd secure top Div. Two placing
Xagħra United registered a 4-1 win over Sannat Lions to seal the Division Two championship title with a game to spare.
Xagħra opened the scoring on 17 minutes when Joseph Xerri converted a penalty but Sannat levelled five minutes later through Antoine Camilleri.
The second half was dominated by Xagħra who scored three more goals through skipper Arthur Farrugia (47) and a double from substitute Daniel Bartolo (69, 89).
On Wednesday, four teams ended their league commitments in Division Two.
Munxar Falcons inflicted a 5-1 defeat over bottom-placed Qala Saints with goals from Daniel Pace (7, 68), Anthony Attard (43), Josef Debrincat (58) and Kersten Grima (82).
Qala’s consolation goal came through Carlton Mifsud (69).
Sannat and Għarb Rangers shared the spoils in a draw of two goals.
Għarb went ahead with a Frank Attard (16) opener but the Lions saved a point with a late Josiah Buttigieg (84) goal.