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McMenemy, Nierras target silver finish as title beyond their reach

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Loyola Meralco Sparks Head Coach Simon McMenemy and his Stallion FC counterpart Ernie Nierras threw in the towel as they have both dismissed their chances of winning the United Football League (UFL) Division I title this season. This comes after the former guided his team to a 3-1 victory over the latter’s charges last Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Prior to the match, Stallion led Loyola by two points in the table. They seized initiative early on thanks to winger Nathan Alquiros. However, Loyola quickly responded with a goal from Bradley Grayson. Ached by painful defeats to Ceres-La Salle and Kaya, Loyola assured that the unwanted trend ended. Grayson collected his second before Jake Morallo cushioned the lead for good. The result allowed Loyola to leapfrog Stallion in the table. Currently, the Sparks are in third place with 28 points, tied with Kaya who hold a superior goal difference between them. On the flipside, Stallion and Global are also level on points. Both with 27, the two clubs are only separated by Global’s better goal difference.

While Kaya and Global are at par with Loyola and Stallion respectively in the gap from Ceres-La Salle, the first two clubs mentioned have played the same number of games as the league leaders. Loyola and Stallion, on the other hand, have played a game more. The worst case scenario for both McMenemy and Nierras’ teams is that Ceres-La Salle only need six more points out of a possible 15 to rule them out of contention. With that in mind, the coaches have set their sights on a far more realistic goal: Clinching second place.

McMenemy breathed a sigh of relief as his team claimed their first win against a team in the top half of the table. “For once, I’m happy that we set a plan out, the plan worked, and everybody performed,” the coach from Scotland stated. Aware of the five-team race for second place, McMenemy hopes his team know longer drop points. “It’s very important that we make sure that we maintain it for the rest of the season now and finish the season stronger,” he noted.

On the other hand, Nierras lamented the performance of his defenders, who he thought went forward too often to his liking in the match. “I have to fix it if I plan to win more games,” he assessed. He ruled out his team from winning the title after collecting only three of the last 12 points in the offing. “Now we’re fighting with everybody else for second place,” he declared. Arguably, their fate is beyond their reach and will hope for other results to go their way in order to get there. Quite disgruntled, Nierras also eyes glory in the UFL Cup where everyone has a relatively equal chance of winning.

Action resumes for Stallion versus an inspiring Green Archers United FC team on Saturday evening. The Loyola Meralco Sparks will return to the field a little longer, against gritty Pachanga-Diliman on Wednesday, July 22.

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