K. Shmona stumbles to draw with Mac PT

Short-lived three-way tie atop the standings; Tel Aviv clubs still have chance to pad lead.

Weeam Amasha_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Weeam Amasha_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona squandered a golden opportunity to climb to the top of the Premier League standings on Saturday night after only managing a 1-1 home draw against Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Kiryat Shmona entered the match on the back of a four-game winning streak, including against the likes of Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa, and was a firm favorite to get the better of the struggling Petah Tikva, which had lost four consecutive matches.
However, it was Petah Tikva which took the lead against the run of play in the 25th minute, with Tal Ben-Haim netting the opener.
Three minutes after Shimon Abu Hazeira hit the crossbar with a header, Barak Badash equalized for Kiryat Shmona in the 60th minute, but the hosts couldn’t convert the chances they had to clinch all three points and were forced to settle for extending their unbeaten streak to nine matches.
The single point moves Kiryat Shmona tied on 20 points with Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv, which play on Sunday and Monday, respectively.
Hapoel, which leads the table on goal difference, visits Bnei Sakhnin, which has won all five of its home matches to date by a combined goal difference of 15-3.
Maccabi faces Betar Jerusalem at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Monday.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Bnei Yehuda, looking to rebound from Thursday’s disappointing 4-2 Europa League defeat at Steaua Bucharest.
A win would have secured Haifa’s place in the round of 32. But despite coming back from two goals down to go into the break tied at 2-2 – and despite Steaua going down to 10 men in the 61st minute following Florin Costea’s sending off – the Greens dropped to a frustrating defeat, with Cristian Tanase scoring twice (64, 84) to bring the Romanians within one point of Haifa in the battle for second place in Group J and a berth in the next round.
Hapoel Petah Tikva finally overhauled its nine-point deduction on Saturday, beating Hapoel Beersheba 2-0 in a battle between the league’s two bottom sides.
Efraim Bugla (35) and Or Fishbein (90) scored for the hosts at National Stadium in Ramat Gan, handing Beersheba its ninth league defeat in 11 matches this season.
Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Rishon Lezion remained right above Beersheba and Petah Tikva after also drawing 1-1 at the Haberfeld Stadium.
Asi Baldut put Rishon in front from the penalty spot in the 33rd before Vladimir Gluscevic (49) equalized.
Hapoel Acre could have also moved tied on 20 points with the the top three with a win on Saturday, but it had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.
Sintiyahu Salalik (33) continued his excellent start to the season with the opener for Acre, but Tomer Swisa’s seventh league goal in eight matches tied the score in the 51st minute.
Ashdod SC snapped Maccabi Netanya’s seven-match unbeaten streak on Saturday, winning 2-1 at home.
Idan Shiriki (53) gave Ashdod the lead and Rodgers Kola (88) netted the winner four minutes after Sergy Tretyak equalized for Netanya.