Ceres-Negros FC turned back a late equalizer from Green Archers United FC to score a 2-1 victory last October 2 at the Aboitiz Pitch at Lipa Batangas. Robert Lopez Mendy and OJ Porteria scored a goal apiece while Stephen Appiah added another for Green Archers.
The busmen went on a perfect start when Lopez Mendy headed in an OJ Porteria just after two minutes. Green Archers tightened their defense after the concession which resulted to a tight midfield battle in the early going.
Ceres-Negros had their second shot on goal in the 19th minute when Mike Ott headed Stephan Schrock cross but Nenri Bandeken Fong came up for the save.
The Archers had their first shot on goal late in the 35th minute but John Vendell Marcellana’s effort from 25-yards was straight to Roland Muller.
The hosts had their most dangerous chance when a long ball sent to Ceres-Negros box was missed by an unmarked Mari Angeles in front of goal.
The Negrenses almost doubled the lead when Lopez Mendy cut near the goal line before he sent a ball to Porteria who’s left footer went over the bar.
Porteria would again have another chance when he was found by Schrock but his header didn’t have enough power to threaten the keeper.
United came close just before halftime when Jimuel Ariola broke away from the defense to test Muller. The Ceres-Negros keeper came up with a fine save but John Celiz almost put in a rebound if not for a late block from the defense.
Both teams started well in the second half when Ott forced Bandeken Fong to an early save. Areola would return the favor minutes later but Muller did a full stretch to tame the effort.
Schrock would try his luck in the 53rd from the edge of the box but the Archers keeper again came up with a fine save. Lopez Mendy had twin chances near the hour mark but was again stopped by Bandeken Fong.
The defending champs would test the GAU keeper again but Schrock and Lopez Mendy couldn’t find their way through. The Archers pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute when John Celiz met a lovely through ball on the break to make things level.
With the specter of another draw in sight, the busmen dug deep and scored a go ahead goal six minutes later after Porteria headed in a pinpoint cross from Schrock to the delight of the Ceres fans.
The Green and White squad had a chance to equalize eight minutes from time when Appiah squeezed himself out of a challenge inside the box to force a shot but his attempt was blocked by the defense.
Roland Muller came up big in the resulting corner after he punched out the inswinger which was later on followed up with an Appiah strike which the keeper saved.
The two-time champs found the back of the net in the 90th minute but the assistant referee found Lopez Mendy guilty of handball just before the two-minute injury time was declared.
Appiah broke free from the Ceres-Negros backline in the first minute of added time but Muller did enough to close him down. The Archers striker was again dangerous in the third extra minute inside the box but Sean Kane cleared the danger on time.
The Archers sent everybody forward in resulting corner in the fourth extra minute but Muller came up again with the big punch sending the ball past the touchline .
The fulltime whistle blew which meant that the Busmen continued their unbeaten run of 19 games in the Philippines Football League season.
The scoreless draw between Mendiola and Kaya in the previous match meant that the Negros squad only needs three points in their last four matches to secure their third straight PFL title.
All photos from the Philippines Football League.