Division II squad JP Voltes FC takes one step to promotion next year by winning over Team Socceroo, 3-1, in the first leg of the First Division playoffs, Saturday, August 8, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The visitors started on the right track with their great execution in ball distribution. At the fifth minute, Team Socceroo was called for a foul outside the box. Dominic Del Rosario attempted a shot to the net at the ensuing free kick, but the defense was able to clear it. At the following play, Tatsuya Nakamura took a corner kick that swerved directly into the back of the net to break the deadlock.
JP Voltes continued their attack and had sent balls into their attacking third. Captain Chihiro Noda received a ball from the middle; however, he was not able to finish. Another chance at the 19th minute went for naught as Team Socceroo did well enough to stifle the incursion of Del Rosario inside the box. Nevertheless, the promotion-seeking side doubled their lead at the 26th minute. Del Rosario found Mikko Mabanag on the right flank. The Ateneo Blue Eagles standout fired from the edge of the penalty area for his team’s second goal of the match.
Two minutes after the Mabanag goal, Team Socceroo took one back. Playing in his first match for a long time, Daniel Matsunaga breached the defense to score for his team. The Brazilian-Japanese forward received a pass from Alexandre Reche from the left, and blasted the ball past JP Voltes goalkeeper Nelson Gasic.
That goal from Matsunaga opened up the defense of both teams that led to several attempts into the goal. Team Socceroo almost tied the match, only Alu Kigbu and Jerome Cuyos were not able to score on their respective attempts. On the other hand, JP Voltes kept on attacking whenever they had the ball. Just a few seconds before the halftime whistle, Del Rosario found himself inside the six-yard box and tapped the ball towards the net and off opposing centerback Feb Baya leading to his team’s third goal.
The same story happened in the second half as both teams tried to put more in the scoreboard. Team Socceroo played better in this period as they managed to string passes and crosses. Despite dominating the possession, the Division I side could not get another goal to cut the deficit. On the other side of the pitch, Socceroo goalkeeper plucked the chances of Del Rosario, John Celiz, and Noda to prevent further damage. The final whistle was sounded as JP Voltes upended Team Socceroo, 3-1, in the first leg of the playoff.
The winner of this two-legged playoff between JP Voltes and Team Socceroo will advance to the Division I tournament of the 2016 United Football League. Meanwhile, the losing team will be relegated to Division II. The second leg will happen on Tuesday, August 11.