Virtually playing their home game after a change in schedule and venue, Stallion Laguna FC seemed to be energized when they went out of the gates with tight pressure and pure tenacity against PFL champions Ceres-Negros FC and blew past them as they slotted three goals past the reigning champions.
The first half of the match saw Stallion Laguna pressing the defense of Ceres-Negros with the latter having a hard time getting the ball out of their own half in the first seven minutes of the match. Through sheer pressure, Stallion has been able to get take their shots but failed to find the back of the net.
On the 3rd minute of the match, Nicholas Ferrer took a shot on goal but it just flew past the crossbar. Carlo Polli piled on the pressure for Laguna to which he took the ball away. A scramble inside the box gave an opening for team captain Ruben Doctora to take a shot but his half-volleyed effort was blocked by the defense.
On the sixth minute of the match, Poli was the recepient of a short corner to which he tried taking on Roland Muller but the veteran shot-stopper saw his shot flying high. Confusion arise on the seventh minute of the match when Nathan Alquiros seemed to be brought down by Dutosme inside the box but the referee thought otherwise and decide to keep the play going.
Danger wasn’t over for Ceres as Polli fed Ferrer inside the box but his tip in was covered by Muller. Terrece Linatoc tried to sneak one in on the 15th minute but his shot just went wide. Stallion just kept on piling the pressure on Ceres as Melizza was freed by Poli on the left wing on the 17th minute but Amani Aguinaldo was there to cover him.
Polli seemed to be doing all the stuff for his club as he fed the ball to Ferrer on the 19th minute but Muller saved it for a corner. They finally saw their efforts bear fruit on the 24th minute when Ruben Doctora slotted home a rebound from Polli’s initial attempt. The skipper found himself open after Polli fired a rocket that was saved by Muller to which Doctora didn’t thought twice of shooting the ball.
— #PFL2018 (@WeArePFL) September 15, 2018
From then on, they kept the pressure against Ceres who struggled to take a shot on goal. Melizza almost made it two for his side on the 28th minute when he tested Muller but the keeper was up to the challenge. The former FEU duo Melizza and Ferrer combined for a play on the 32nd minute as they exchanged short passes before Ferrer firing one against Muller but his shot was wide.
A moment of uncertainty occurred for Stallion on the 39th minute when Blake Powell broke loose but Ko Kyungjoon was there to tackle him at the right time to avoid a penalty and clear the ball out for a throw in.
A lovely play on the 41st minute saw Stallion scoring their second goal of the match. The play started with Nathan Alquiroz on the right who then gave a through ball for Yannick Tuazon. Tuazon, then, squared the ball for Melizza who drilled it past Muller to make it two-nil before the end of the first half.
The second half is off to a flyer as two contrasting sides went out on the pitch. Stallion looked to build on their lead while Ceres wanted to hang on for dear life. Stallion’s attack was put on hold temporarily as Ferrer seemed to be sidelined for an injury but Fitch Arboleda was subbed in for the former FEU standout.
Shortly after coming in, Arboleda fed a through ball for Melizza who sprinted towards ball before tipping it in for his brace. Ceres seemed to be firing blanks as their passes were not making it past the final third of the Laguna-based squad.
Melizza almost scored his hat-trick on the 62nd minute when he rose for a header but just floats high past the crossbar. Things went bad to worst for the bus men as Super Herrera got his second yellow card of the match through a challenge on Alquiroz and was ordered to march off the pitch.
Stephan Schrock was then introduced in the game to replace Mike Ott as Ceres were hoping for a comeback. Jerry Barbaso was also subbed in for Junior Munoz in an attempt to stop the bleeding in defense. Tension flared up on the 77th minute as Matt Nierras and Powell got into a tussle. Schrock joined in the arguments as e directed his tirades on Nierras.
On the 80th minute Renald Villareal broke loose on the right but he failed to square the ball in to Melizza for Muller to put it out for a corner. Coach Ernest Nierras gave Melizza his well-deserved rest with the introduction of Joe Bedia on the 85th minute.
It was all but lost cause for the reigning league champions as they are now 0-2 in the cup while Stallion opens their cup campaign with a dominant win. They will then face each other again on the 19th of September at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
— #PFL2018 (@WeArePFL) September 15, 2018
Photo Credits: Philippines Football League