The Loyola Sparks blazed on as they scored 4-0 against the Green Archers United on their final game of the United Football League (UFL) Division 1 tournament on Saturday, August 1, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Loyola took first control of the ball at the start of the match, with James Younghusband and Yves Ashime at the helm. On the other hand, GAU pushed forward aggressively to get an early goal, which only resulted into a foul for William Ebanda three minutes into the match. Loyola was then granted a free kick, however the ball went wide. Four minutes in, GAU’s offense was moving close to the goal with a shot by Jimuel Ariola, however, it was not enough to penetrate net thanks to Loyola Goalkeeper, Tomas Trigo. While the Archers may have had full control of the offensive, it was a scramble for them as the Sparks remained composed and held their defense well.
The said defense led to an opening made by Phil Younghusband, who shot a long ball into the onion bag. Unfortunately for the Sparks, the ball was cleared off by GAU Keeper, Paolo Pascual. This did not stop the Sparks from their move to charge forward. One particular attempt came from Bradley Grayson at the 12th minute; where his kick was called offside, which became a sign of things to come for Loyola. The following minutes was a sequence full of close calls and physical aggression, as both teams clashed to make a goal.
The struggle broke through at the 18th minute when Grayson scored the first goal for Loyola off a header by Adam Mitter, coming from a free kick by Phil Younghusband, 1-0. Nevertheless, the Archers kept the fire burning and took advantage of the offense right away. At the 25th minute, Jovanie “Manok” Simpron was awarded a corner kick, but it was blocked off by Trigo. Despite their efforts, Loyola continued to hinder any chance off hindering the Archers a score. They found an opportunity to breeze in another goal at the 33rd minute, from Simon Greatwich connecting with a Phil Younghusband cross. Afterwhich, the Sparks began to relax a little, and the Archers tried to make their advance, as the first half was coming to a close. This caused the Loyola keeper to foul from a collision with Robert Lopez-Mendy, awarding GAU with a penalty kick at the 44th minute. Sadly for GAU, the penalty kick was deflected by the goal post; concluding the first half with Loyola in the lead, 2-0.
The second half began with GAU and their relentless quest to score. Reynald Villareal kicked things off at the 47th minute with a long volley, but missed the net. GAU may have constantly pushed hard to make a goal, but the Sparks remained steadfast against their many attempts. Loyola effectively countered GAU thusly and added a goal to their tally, from a collaboration by the Younghusband brothers at the 54th minute, 3-0.
The big score gap did not faze the Archers, as they did their best to fight their way through the net of the Sparks. However, while Trigo may have shown signs of fatigue, he kept focused and blocked any attack that came his way. The great wave that is Loyola, then, overturned their opponents’ defense and recorded their fourth goal of the match at the 79th minute, from Graham Caygill, via a Grayson pass. The final few minutes of the match was a battle of defense, with a number of fouls and yellow cards raised on both ends of the field. The match concluded with the score 4-0, in favor of the Loyola Sparks.
Loyola Head Coach Simon McMenemy expressed positivity with regards to the team’s performance in their final game of the league. “Probably one of our most professional [match] of the season. Really happy with the way they played, and defense was superb.” He also believes that the team’s strongest asset is their chemistry that the other teams are struggling to outmatch.
Both teams played their last League game, and now awaits the schedule of the UFL Cup.
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