Bacolod’s Ceres-La Salle FC produced a fine performance with only ten men as they outclassed fellow La Sallian Team Green Archers United 2-1 last April 7 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
With only ten men at the start of the second half, the Bacolod-based team banked on late goals from Manuel Ott and Juan Guirado Aldeguer to overcome the one man disadvantage while Kennedy Uzoka pulled one back three minutes from time to salvage a goal for the Green and White.
Things could have been different from the start as the Archers were given a penalty after a Sang Min Kim challenge to Robert Lopez Mendy in the first ten minutes. The Busmen where controlling the early going until the challenge done to the Archer player. Lopez Mendy’s subsequent penalty however was blocked by a reaction save from Ceres keeper Louis Michael Casas to keep the score even.
It was a tight midfield battle for both teams as the Ceres couldn’t get past the tough interior of the Archers who were a bit defensive but quick on the counter attack. Both teams featured players coming from long layoffs such as Chieffy Caligdong and Jalsor Soriano who recovered from injuries.
Ceres figured out the Archers as they attacked the wings which produced a barrage of shots after thirty minutes. Striker Adrian Gallardo in particular had three chances which he mishit, was blocked by the defence, and saved by Archer’s keeper Paolo Pascual.
Ceres’ momentum was halted as Soriano was given his second yellow after pulling down Robert Lopez Mendy in the middle of the park. Soriano was still feeling the ropes after a long layoff as he tried to handle the ball that went past him for his first yellow earlier in the half.
The USLS affiliated squad still managed to threaten before the end of the half with a Sang Min Kim shot that hit the side netting. The half ended with 0-0 scoreline.
Even with ten men, Ceres did not back down and still continued to attack the United defence which led to some half-chances to the Negros-based squad.
GAU had the best chance to break the deadlock in the 51st after a breakaway by Lopez Mendy but he was again denied by Louis Casas on a one-on-one situation.
Ceres also had a chance to break the deadlock when Oladipo “Orman” Okunaiya issued a superb cross to Patrick Reichelt who unselfishly laid off to an unmarked Manny Ott. Ott then issued a sublime strike which was deflected but was saved by Pascual in full stretch.
In the 65th it was the Ceres keepers chance to produce a fine save as GAU defender Reynald “Dodong” Villarreal cheekily lobbed a ball towards goal but Casas tipped the ball over the crossbar at the last minute.
Ceres’ persistence to attack bore fruit late in the 70th minute when Ott made a beautiful twenty five-yard strike to the top corner to make the score 1-0. The Archers also had a similar chance six minutes after but Jess Melliza’s shot was easily collected by the keeper.
The Negros Occidental squad made it 2-0 after a header by Captain Juani Guirado off a Manny Ott corner in the 78th. Guirado met the pass and headed the ball to the ground which bounced towards the top right corner beyond the GAU defence’s reach.
The Archers found the back of the net ten minutes after when a cross went through the arms of Casas and landed straight to the open Kennedy Uzoka. The Azkals U-23 player easily tapped the ball to score his squads first.
Ceres then kept the ball in their half in the dying minutes to secure the win after three minutes of injury time. The winners climb to solo second with 18 points with one game in hand over the leader in Kaya FC who only leads via goal difference.
The Bacolod Squad will face Loyola Meralco on Saturday, April 11, in a mouth-watering match up. The Sparks gave Ceres their first defeat this year in the group stages of the PFF-Smart Club Championships.