It was a tale of two halves as Mendiola FC 1991 and University of Santo Tomas (UST) FC ended up level after 90 minutes, 2-2, at the 2015 United Football League (UFL) Cup group phase action, Tuesday, May 19, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Mendiola pounced on a miscue of UST’s defense in the 2nd minute. Thomasian Raniel Dosano was called for a foul, surrendering a free kick to the Division II team. Nhiboy Pedimonte connected with Elnie Dorimon on the ensuing free kick, and the forward headed the ball into the back of the net for the initial goal. The white-and-red continued their build up on offense, while searching for gaps in the defense. On the other hand, UST tried to go for long passes and shots, but the home team’s defense anchored by goalkeeper Mike Riconalla, stifled UST’s chances. At the vicinity of 10th minute, John Ian De Castro fouled a running Ralph Abriol inside the box. In the ensuing penalty two minutes from the call, Pedimonte easily tapped the ball straight to the goal to double their lead, 2-0.
It was pretty even in the next few minutes of the first half as both teams pushed for the attack; Mendiola had the better of these chances. Thomasian coach Marjo Allado decided to field in striker Steven Anotado at the 32nd minute for added firepower. The substitution fuelled the Thomasian’s run as they started to execute better offense. Anotado had his first chance to score four minutes after. Austin Alianza found himself unmarked at the left wing and crossed the ball into the box, which Riconalla tapped out. The substitute forward kicked the ball; nonetheless, the shot hit the crossbar and in the ensuing scuffle Mendiola was able to clear the ball. The UAAP-based squad had a few more opportunities, but the leading team’s defense was too organized to crumble. The first ended with the Division II mainstays at the lead, 2-0.
At the start of the second half, Mendiola continued their aggression to pad on the gap. Nine minutes into the period, a cross by Dorimon was deflected by UST defense. Miguel Caindec, on the follow up, was denied by De Castro. At the hour mark, the Thomasians started to connect passes into the midfield and tried for build up. UST efforts paid off at the 74th minute, when Darwin Busmion sent an assist to Karl Bronda, who found the back of the net to cut the deficit, 1-2.
The trailing team dominated from then on as they played the rest of the period on their opponent’s half of the field. Batisla-ong and Marvin Bricenio had attempts on the goal, but their shots were either wide or easily collected by Riconalla. With UST’s offense going, a goal was just inevitable; and with a minute left in regulation, the Thomasians registered an equalizer. Darwin Busmion sent a pass to Bricenio, and the winger put it away this time to tie the match at two goals apiece. Mendiola tried to salvage the match on their favor in injury time, but they were whistled for a foul after an excellent buildup on the left wing. That was the last clear chance of the match, and the final whistle was blown with both teams leaving with two goals and one point.
UST coach Allado was delighted that his tactical adjustments and substitutions worked. The long-time mentor also shared that his team had more than motivation to try and win the game. He shared, “I think na realize nila na nagsawa na sila matalo. ‘Yung first two goals nila within 10 minutes kasi yun ‘yung nagdemoralize sa players nung first half. There’s nothing we can do; solusyon ‘yung hahanapin namin.” Allado told his players to play more on the midfield than to settle for long passes in the second half, which worked on their behalf and were able to score goals to tie the game.
Mendiola FC ended their 2015 UFL Cup with a draw against three losses, while UST FC will close their own campaign against powerhouse Loyola FC, on Sunday, May 24.
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