With the battle for that 2016 United Football League title being highly contested, any win is important.
After turning up the defensive stinginess in the second half, Kaya FC walked away with the three points in a heated tussle against JP Voltes, 1-0, courtesy of a Louis Clark penalty conversion, as the second round ofaction gets underway, Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Head Coach Chris Greatwich shared Kaya’s plan going into the game. “We really need to close the gap [with JP Voltes],’ he said.
This intention was evident as the black-shirts had early chances at goal. At the third minute, however, Alfred Osei failed to disturb JPV’s goal as he shot wide on his final touch from a free kick delivery.
Nine minutes after, Miguel Tanton went for the goal, but Nelson Gasic was there to collect the attempt. Nonetheless, Kaya did not let up with the pressure, and snatched a golden opportunity at the 15th minute. Clark found himself some space on the right flank with Melo Tacusalme to beat. The JP Voltes defender tried to stop the former on his run, which is deemed as a foul inside the box. The English striker stood to the spot and calmly slotted the ensuing penalty kick to take the 1-0 lead for Kaya.
Kaya very well knew of their opponent’s quality and thus searched for more goals.
Kenshiro Daniels have been busy trying to send balls into their attacking third, but Kaya lacked some support in some stages of the first period. The black-shirts, however, still had good distribution in the middle, which only needed that last roll into the goal.
JP Voltes was not devoid of chances as William Espinosa flicked a past to a rushing Takeshi Odawara, but the recipient just shot wide. At the 40th, chances from the right flank for the men in stripes were then cleared for corner, which eventually Kaya also defended well. The visitors hold on to the precarious lead at the break.
In the second period, both teams had some chances. JP Voltes particularly had opportunities from their middle and the right wing with Odawara and captain Yu Hoside. The home side also repeatedly tried to use their left to take advantage of Alen Angeles’ speed, but Daniels and Osei stopped the Filipino-Japanese winger’s runs and crosses.
The fourth-placed JP Voltes dominated the second half, as Kaya was left to fend off the opponents’ attacks. The biggest chance for an equalizer happened at the 72nd minute, Kaya’s Masa Omura headed out Hoshide’s corner delivery, but just as far as Yuta Nakagaito. Nakagaito pounced on the chance and the ball went over the goal.
After a melee saw Tanton, Clark, Angeles, and Peter Fadrigalan booked, JP Voltes resumed their attack mode. With just ten minutes left in the match, Angeles finally breached Osei and Daniels, but was ultimately denied in his final touch. Frustration doomed the striped men as he missed on chances after chances, as Kaya denied a late tying goal and took the win by the slimmest of margins.
Coach Greatwich was relieved and happy of what his wards did. “It was the same as last time. We dominated the first half, and they [JP Voltes] did better in the second. The difference now is that we were very resolute.” The Kaya mentor praised the team’s commitment on defense to get the victory.
Kaya FC will attempt to follow up this strong start in the second round as they face Laos FC next Saturday, August 13 at 1:45pm. On the other hand, JP Voltes will battle Green Archers United FC on Wednesday, August 10 at 4pm.