Three goals in the first half for Stallion FC was not enough to put away Green Archers United FC (GAU), as the latter poured on a pair in the second to force a deadlock at the end of 90 minutes, 3-3, Saturday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The first half started with both teams sharing the ball almost equally and took shots into their respective goals. However, Stallion turned it up a notch in the succeeding minutes with more enterprising incursions into the penalty area. Former University of the East stalwart Fitch Arboleda made them happen on the right flank, but his passes to the dangerous area was dealt with by the defense. At the 24th minute, however, Arboleda successfully sent his corner kick into the six-yard box, only GAU keeper Paolo Pascual got to the ball. The threat was not over from the visitors as Jordan Mintah sent the loose ball to Milan Arends for the header and the go-ahead goal.
Sensing momentum, Stallion did not let up, but instead continued to pressure their opponents. Arboleda doubled the lead for his squad seven minutes after the initial goal, when he headed the ball into the back of the net from a free kick. At the 34th minute, Louis Serge Kaole kept the ball from going out and passed it to Mintah, who slotted it past Pascual, for their squad’s third goal of the match. That was the last spell of efficient offense from the visitors, as the game’s balance shifted to the Green Archers’ favour.
During added time, the home side had a successful buildup from the sides, which the Stallion’s defense cleared for a corner. Robert Lopez Mendy connected to Jovanie Simpron on Pascual’s left, but the Ilonggo winger’s run was stopped by Kaole inside the box. Kaole was booked, while the Green Archers was awarded a kick from the spot. Lopez Mendy fired it into the goal to get one back for his team before the halftime whistle was sounded.
Going into the second period, the white-shirts picked up the pace and continued their aggressiveness into the final third. The Archers pounded the tired Stallion defense with a barrage of attempts on goal. Six minutes before the hour mark, striker Jhan Jhan Melliza saw opposing custodian Johann Noetzel off his line and blasted the ball from way outside the box to cut the deficit to one. Robert Cañedo almost equalized minutes after; nonetheless, Noetzel got to the ball. The pressure hit fever pitch for the home team with Stallion failing to prevent chances. Melliza shot the ball and hit the crossbar, but Lopez Mendy was there to guide the rebound into the onion bag for the equalizer, at the 59th minute.
The Green Archers made it appear that they wanted the win more, as they pushed for the clinching goal throughout the rest of the match. However, Lopez Mendy botched two one-on-one opportunities against Noetzel. At the 70th minute, Kennedy Uzoka intercepted the ball in the midfield and passed it to the forward, who sent it straight to Noetzel. Three minutes from the attempt, Lopez Mendy missed the frame and the potential game-winning goal. The final whistle was sounded as the match ended on a stalemate, 3-3, against these two familiar foes.
GAU Head Coach Rodolfo Alicante knew his team had the capability of turning the game around despite the big deficit. Alicante also pointed out they felt Stallion was tired and they just took advantage of it. He explained, “Napansin ko yung Stallion pagod na rin sila, so continue lang namin yung pressing namin sa kanila.”
On his part, Stallion mentor Ernie Nierras was really displeased on how his wards “stopped playing in the second half.” Nierras concluded that, in order to end this string of disappointing results, “They [Stallion] must play like winners.”
Coach Rodolfo Alicante’s squad will now prepare for their next battle against against Global FC, who drew earlier today against Manila Jeepney FC, on Saturday, July 25. Meanwhile, the Ernie Nierras-mentored Stallion FC will take on Kaya FC on Sunday, July 26.