Ceres-Negros FC banked on a splendid first half to beat Kaya FC-Iloilo 2-0 last September 18 at the Binan Stadium. OJ Porteria and Mike Ott added one goal apiece in their third straight win against the second ranked squad.
Kaya had the earliest chance of the match with Eric Giganto in front of goal but the midfielder couldn’t find the target in the 3rd minute. Both teams figured in a tight midfield battle which resulted to half chances from Jordan Mintah and Super.
The opening goal came in the 15th minute when Ott smashed in the goal after a Porteria assist. Porteria worked his way into the box before he released to an unmarked Ott who made no mistake.
Mintah had a chance to equalize minutes later from on top of the box but his shot was a yard off. Sean Kane headed back a corner to Ott in the 27th but Ott’s left footer was well wide.
A long distance free kick from Stephan Schrock managed to bounce in front of goal but no one was there to connect.
It was in the half hour mark when Ceres-Negros doubled the lead when Porteria danced his way into the box before finishing in style into the far post to make ot 2-0.
Things got testy late in the half which led to a frustrated elbow by Mintah on Super. The Ceres-Negros defender was knocked unconscious and had a seizure afterwards while being treated. Mintah mean while fell slowly after in the contact.
Play was halted for a while with both players getting treatment while the Ceres bench was incensed with the non call of the intentional foul that was seen clearly from the stands.
Kaya FC tried to sub out Mintah who was on a stretcher and was announced on the PA system which further incensed a concussed Super who was in a neck brace on the bench.
Assistant Coach Ian Treyes was sent to the stands minutes later while referee Mick Pineda held the substitution of Mintah before giving him a red. Super Herrera was surprisingly given a red card which further incensed the injured defender.
With only ten men for both squads, the second half started slower than the first with the initial chance happening in the 52nd. Substitute Jovin Bedic got the ball inside the box but his touch failed him before he can threaten Muller.
Ceres-Negros went on a break on the 66th when Maranon laid off to Porteria but the midfielder’s final ball was found to be offside. Kaya was growing into the match but Ceres-Negros worked on the counter to keep the hosts in check.
Substitute Kenny Daniels sent a good ball forward in the 70th but Tacagni couldn’t connect. Maranon would get a shot minutes later but his sliced attempt still forced Casas to push the ball to safety.
The Busmen almost had their third when Schrock dispossessed his marker before he tee’d up Maranon whos shot was wide of the top corner.
Masa Omura would threaten in the 83rd with a header to Tuason but Muller came up quick to punch away the danger. Schrock found Lopez Mendy in the box minutes later but the ball was too high for the forward to redirect.
The Azkals captain had a good run in the box four minutes from time after he breezed past two defenders but his final shot was blocked inside the box.
Kaya had their final chance to get a goal back in injury time by Daniel’s free kick bounced off the wall and rolled towards Muller who covers the danger. The referee blew the final whistle which signaled the continuation of the busmen’s unbeaten streak in the league.
“Its a big win for us,”said Ceres-Negros Coach Risto Vidakovic. We beat our direct opponent for the title and its very very important but we need to continue as we have seven games more. We have to win four games to be sure that we are champions again.
“I want to congratulate my players,” added the Spanish-Serbian mentor. “They played really good today and they gave everything. We controlled the game from the first minute until the end.” Especially, it’s very hard for the players if you don’t have referees on the pitch. It’s very hard to play.”
Ceres-Negros extended their lead in the PFL table to nine points with seven games remaining. They will need to win four of their last seven games to secure their unprecedented third straight PFL title.
All photos from Ceres-Negros FC/Glen Charles Lopez