This game was played at a very fast pace. Both sides had their good moments as in both periods it was a balanced affair. Referee Jareth Grima had good control of the proceedings.
Balzan created the first action as Gianluca Cacciatore served Julian Gauci with a through ball and Paola keeper Miguel Camilleri foiled him with a timely sortie and at the other end Jake Portelli released Kieron Caruana in the area and Balzan keeper Matthias Buttigieg saved his shot to a corner.
Two actions were then created by Balzan. Gauci pounced on a defensive indecision on the edge of the area and as he tried his luck with a lobbed ball he missed the upright by inches and Gabriel Farrugia served Gauci on the right flank and following his cross in the area the ball was cleared to a corner.
In the 18th minute, Paola came very close to open the score. They won a corner kick on the right flank which was taken by Caruana and after a header by Kenrick Farrugia the ball thumped the upright and ended in Buttigieg’s waiting hands, and after a cross from the right flank by Isaiah Chukunyere the ball was partly cleared just outside the area and Mikael Seychell skied the ball from the rebound.
In an action by Balzan Gabriel Diego Farrugia served Liam Azzopardi in the area and Camilleri denied him with a diving save and Paola mounted the last action before the break as after a Kieron Caruana flag kick from the right flank Buttigieg had to dive and save a shot by Chukunyere
Balzan mounted the first actions after the resumption. Zack Bartolo was fouled in midfield and the ball was headed away from the free kick by Craig Borg and after a flag kick by Jake Grech the ball finished out from his high cross.
In the 43rd minute, Paola Hibs opened the score. Portelli served Chukunyere on the right flank who after entering the area was tripped by substitute Samuel Berman. Julian Casha took charge of the spot kick and after Buttigieg dived and partly saved his shot Seychell scored from the rebound with a hard rising shot.
The pressure from Paola resumed. Cukunyewre was fouled on the right flank and following the free kick by Aiden Cassar the ball was cleared to a corner. Substitute Jakin Musu was then fouled on the left flank and the ball was headed away from the free kick by Portelli and Chukunyere released Kieron Caruana on the right flank and following his cross in the area the ball was cleared to a corner and after Kieron Caruana’s flag kick Chukunyere missed the upright with a header from inside the area.
Balzan reacted and mounted three actions. After an Azzopardi flag kick Gauci headed over the bar. Borg was then fouled outside the area and Camilleri saved in two attempts the free kick by Jake Grech and Lucas Caruana released Grech in the area and he missed the upright by inches. Paola then create the last action before the end as Chukunyere was fouled in midfield and Buttigieg saved on the free kick by Cassar.
Paola Hibs: M.Camilleri, L.Sapiano, K.Farrugia, G.borg, A.Cassar, J,Casha, I.N.Chukunyere, J.Portelli, K.Caruana, L.Caruana, M.Seychell(Capt)
Balzan: M.Buttigieg, G.Farrugia, R.Demicoli(Capt), C.Borg, D.Sujak, J.Grech, G.Cacciatore, J.Gauci, G.D.Farrugia, L.Azzopardi, Z.Bartolo
Player of the match: Isaiah Ndubisi Chukunyere
Referee: Jareth Grima