Ceres-Negros FC opened their Copa Paulino Alcantara campaign with a 2-2 draw against Mendiola FC last October 26 at the Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa.
Robert Lopez Mendy scored a brace while Hamed Hadjemadi and Robert Corsame added one apiece for the visitors.
The Busmen were off to a good start when Lopez Mendy connected with an Angelo Marasigan cross to tap-in the opening goal in the 4th minute.
It was almost two for Ceres-Negros in the 12th minute when Lopez Mendy cut the ball back to an unmaraked James Younghusband but the Red and white defense did well to contain the danger.
Minutes later, a corner by Miguel Tanton wasn’t handled well by the Mendiola keeper. Younghusband tried to take advantage of the scramble but Mendiola snuffed the chance out..
Ricardo Sendra had a chance to equalize in the half-hour mark but his left footed shot wasn’t strong enough to bother Jun Badelic.
Lopez Mendy doubled the advantage in the 31st when he connected to a Takashi Odawara pass to set himself up for a one-and-one and finished past Dini Ouattara to make it 2-0.
Aaron Altiche had a chance to score when broke the trap after a high through pass but the Badelic headed the ball from the edge of the box towards the safety of Joshua Dutosme.
Odawara pinged the ball from outside the box in the 37th but his shot was blocked. Younghusband tried to rebound but fouled a defender who was in the way of the shot.
Sendra finally beat the Ceres-Negros keeper in the 41st minute but his shot bounced from the inside of the post before it rolled forward of the goal line.
Mendiola would eventually get a goal back from Hadjemadi in injury time to make it 2-1 moments before halftime.
The second half started where they left off in the first half with end-to-end action from both teams. Hadjemadi tested Badelic from 25- yards but the free kick was easily collected in the 49th.
Sendra produced a half chance minutes later but the Argentinean couldn’t connect for a shot. Dutosme launched a ball to Lopez Mendy moments later but the striker can only head wide.
The former Copa topscorer had another good chance after he was released by Tanton but the ball came a whisker of the second post.
Substitute Ashley Flores locked on a weak pass and unleashed a shot but Badelic tapped the ball wide.
The 63rd minute saw Ceres-Negros finding the back of the net from Younghusband but the assistant referee judged ball to be out before the cross from Dutosme.
The visitors found an equalizer just a minute when substitute Corsame intercepted a the ball and outran the backline to finish past the keeper for the equalizer.
Ceres-Negros brought in Super, Stephan Schrock, and Junior Munoz in the final fifteen minutes to stabilize the defense and find a winner but Mendiola was resolute in holding their own half.
The last chance of the game came to Dylan De Burycker in injury time after a neat one-two from Lopez Mendy. The U22 player however saw his left footed shot go wide.
Four minutes of added time were used up as both teams settled for a draw in their first group stage match in the Cup.
“We have many players that didn’t play in the league so I want to give them a chance to prove themselves in the Cup,” said Coach Risto Vidakovic “Just to see how the team is working without the regulars.
Ceres-Negros will next face the Philippines U22 team on Wednesday in Binan and the Green Archers United in Lipa on Saturday.
All photos from Philippines Football League