Nomads finished their United Football League (UFL) Cup campaign by taking the game to Forza FC en route to a 2-2 draw Tuesday night at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. The non-league team even led for most of the match only for them to salvage a point after Forza nearly completing a turnaround.
Forza began the match as the better team, creating three shots in the space of seven minutes. Gio Diamante earned space inside the box but was unable to test college teammate Joshua Cruz on goal at the sixth minute mark. Two minutes later, it was Forza’s top scorer Jangobah Johnson’s turn to shoot, forcing a save from Cruz. Thirteen minutes into the game, Mervin Evangelista sent a cross from the right wing to Maxime Tetang Zeipop but the latter was not able to get a meaningful touch on the ball. Still level with Forza, Nomads attempted to put themselves up. Patrick Wilson almost drew first blood for Nomads at the 14th minute but he did not get to hit the target after penetrating down the Division II team’s defense.
It was back and forth for the next seven minutes, with Nomads becoming the more threatening side. Their resurgence was made apparent by Matthew Custodio, who sliced the ball in from outside the box to give Nomads their first lead in the UFL Cup. He had another opportunity to score three minutes after but his succeeding shot went wayward. Heading into the break, Forza advanced into the attacking third with more urgency. Jangobah remained aggressive but his shots also stayed ineffective. There were times when Kristian Macaspac and Blanchard Belinga Ambara tried to score, but none of them managed to score against Cruz. Halftime came with Nomads successfully preserving a solitary lead.
After the break, Forza remained on course to equalize by creating more chances. Ngom Amadou went close in levelling the score at the 51st minute but Cruz was able to make himself big to prevent the former’s shot from breaching his goal. After a relatively quiet opening 15 minutes, the game erupted with three quick goals inside two minutes. Tetang Zeipop and Kouichi Belgira found the net in quick succession to immediately put Forza ahead after trailing for so long in the match. Not willing to chase the game for long, Nomads pounced on the next chance they had, which came seconds after the restart of Belgira’s goal. Similar to his first half goal, Custodio unleashed a missile of a shot to beat Forza goalie Martin Villaflor and tie the game once more.
Shortly after it rained goals, the game had to be played under rainy conditions. The rain made it difficult for either team to make chances. Forza got to advance more often, but struggled to make do with Nomads’ stiff defending. Tetang Ziepop and Belinga Ambara led the Forza attacking barrage, which almost achieved the goal of taking all three points. The latter thought he had scored a potential game-winning goal three minutes from time, only for the linesman to put his flag up for offside. In added time, Jangobah was given enough room to shoot inside the box but Cruz was able to deny the Forza marksman from handing his team a heartbreaking defeat.
Nomads had the slim chance of qualifying prior to this game but it would require beating Forza by 10 goals or more in order to do so. With the draw, Forza increased their chance of not becoming one of the weakest teams set to compete in the Round of 16.