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Sirens took sweet revenge over Gudja United to assure themselves of playing Premier League football next season.
Ivan Kolev headed home the all-important goal for Sirens who avenged their FA Trophy defeat to the same Gudja United earlier this year.
Winston Muscat’s side have now joined Gudja in ninth place on 28 points and cannot finish lower than 11th place in the Premier League standings this season.
On the other hand, Gudja suffered their fifth defeat in eight matches.
Sirens had goalkeeper Andrea Cassar to thank for the points against Gudja as his crucial successive double-save interventions kept his side’s heads above water, just before Kolev grabbed the winner.
Sirens had the better chances in the opening exchanges, with Gudja goalkeeper Glenn Zammit saving well on Rei Tachikawa before the Japanese midfielder shot wide when well-placed midway through the first half.
Gudja were sterile and conservative, creating very little apart from a free-kick by Samuel da Mata Gomes after 23 minutes that brought a smart save from Andrea Cassar.
After the interval, Vito Plut evaded a couple of challenges before his shot was saved by the outstanding Cassar who subsequently blocked the rebound by Da Mata Gomes.
At the other end, the ball struck the goalkeeper on the face when Kolev tried to slot the ball behind Zammit.
Cassar reacted brilliantly to deny Plut again from point-blank range and then went full-length to claw away Tatsuro Nagamatsu’s shot.
Grateful at their reprieve, Sirens broke the deadlock.
Walker held the ball up on the left flank before playing to Kei Sano whose through-ball was converted from close-range by Kolev.
Gudja reacted well to that setback but the woodwork denied Plut, when the Slovenian striker connected to Karl Micallef’s cross from the right but struck the bar.
Both sides continued the match with ten men as Juan Bolanos and Kolev were sent off after the pair tangled in an off-the-ball incident.
But Gudja’s hopes were all but extinguished by the time substitute Johann Bezzina was dismissed for two quick bookable offenses.
Referee: Emanuel Grech
Jacob Walker (SRN)
BOV PLAYER OF THE MATCH
|#||Player||Position||Goals||Assists||Yellow Cards||Second Yellows||Red Cards|
|21||Joseph Attard 88||Defender||0||0||0||0||0|
|7||John Mintoff 19||Defender||0||0||0||0||0|
|3||Juan Andres Bolanos||Defender||0||0||0||0||1 (64')|
|88||Farid Zuniga 21||Defender||0||0||0||0||0|
|11||Shaisen Attard 77||Forward||0||0||0||0||0|
|13||James Arthur||Midfielder||0||0||1 (72')||0||0|
|19||Johann Bezzina 7||Midfielder||0||0||1 (92')||1 (96')||0|
|39||Samuel Gomes||Midfielder||0||0||1 (53')||0||0|
|77||Nicolas Navarrete 11||Midfielder||0||0||0||0||0|