The match against Birkirkara was a much awaited one, even because our only defeat came at the hand of the same Birkirkara. Every Spartan fan regarded this match as a true test for our team’s consistent improvement.
The start of the match surely resulted in a lot of Hamrunizi feeling their hearts racing, as Birkirkara started aggressively in the opening minutes. However, our boys immediately showed that they were tactically very well prepared by our coach Mark Buttigieg. This tactical superiority resulted in our beloved Spartans taking the lead as early as the 8th minute through our first real attempt at goal. Mbong, who had an excellent performance throughout the match, provided an accurate ball to Soares who instinctively took a long-range shot that gave goalkeeper Guarnone no chance. The Spartans remained tactically dominant throughout the first half, going close to double the score two minutes later through Sasere. Corbalan, who had a near-perfect performance was very close to increasing the score in the 28th minute, as did Oyama in the 34th minute through an in-swinging free kick.
In the second half, Birkirkara upped the game’s tempo and started putting increased pressure on the Hamrun rear-guard. On the 47th minute, Birkirkara were dangerous through Caio Prado but Corbalan managed to avert the danger by blocking the effort. Despite the added pressure, the Spartans remained tactically disciplined and in the 51st minute Mbong once again passed the ball to Soares who this time failed to beat Guarnone. The usual Soares went close once again in the 64th minute but Ntow kept Birkirkara hoping by clearing the ball from the goal-line.
The only major inattention came in the 76th minute when the Hamrun rear-guard where found napping and Caio Prado found himself in a 1 vs 1 situation with Bartolo, only for the Hamrun captain to come out on top of the situation and deviate Caio Prado’s first timer into a corner. Having nothing to lose, Birkirkara kept increasing the pressure but our Spartan warriors kept fighting valiantly. In added time, a short back-pass from Alidor provided the opportunity to Soares to advance from midfield towards the Birkirkara goal and seal the issue with his second goal of the day, and his fourth in two matches.
This win meant that Birkirkara’s positive run ends after 12 unbeaten matches, while the Spartans’ unbeaten record reaches the 15 match mark. It also leaves us at the top of the table with a 2-point advantage on our closest rivals Hibernians. Most importantly, Spartan fans could lower their heart beat and start breathing again.