Ceres-Negros FC staved off a fresh challenge from Mendiola FC to score a 5-2 victory at the Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa Batangas last August 10. Robert Lopez Mendy scored four goals while Bienvenido Maranon added another while Ricky Sendra and Ashley Flores scored one apiece for Mendiola.
Mendiola reinforced their squad with key signings in Sendra and keeper Dini Ouatarra and they found the back of the net against thr run of play in the 10th minute after Sendra rose over his marker in the box to make it 1-0.
Ceres-Negros leveled six minutes later when a deflected OJ Porteria free kick found its way to Lopez Menday on the left flank which the striker curled over the keeper and into the back of the net.
Miguel had his chance midway of the half with a long distance strike but the ball curled wide. Flores tried to outrun his marker minutes later but Carli De Murga found a way to clear the danger.
Lopez Mendy tapped in his second in the 36th minute after a deflected Dylan De Bruycker pass fell to his lap for the go-ahead goal. It was almost three for the Bacolod squad but Porteria’s chances from a pass from De Bruycker was wide.
The Busmen doubled the advantage just before halftime when Porteria won the possession in the far corner before he drove the ball towards Lopez Mendy who tapped in his hat trick.
Stephan Schrock found De Bruycker in the box but the midfielders header was over the bar. The half would finish with Ceres-Negros leading 3-1.
The defending champs came out strong at the half with twin chances from Takashi Odawara but his first shot hit the woodwork and the other was saved by the keeper.
Mendiola would get another when Flores dispossessed Jun Badelic after a bad touch off a backpass to make it 3-2. Schrock almost restored the advantage but his attempt was blocked at the last second by the keeper.
Odawara again hit the woodwork in the 55th minute but Lopez Mendy was there for the rebound to make it 4-2. Sendra tried to catch Aaron Altiche on the free kick but Jeffrey Christaens nicked the ball in time to break the play.
Flores was again the danger man when he found some space for a shot but Badelic tapped it over tha bar. They would force a header from the resulting corner but it goes over.
A beautiful one-two play between Lopez Mendy and Porteria resulted to shot from the winger but the ball smacked the face of the post. He would have some chances minutes later but they were saved by Ouatarra.
The 81st minute saw Schrock tee up De Bruycker but his attempt was blocked by the Mendiola keeper. Schrock rebounded but it sails over. Mendiola had another counter moments later but miscommunication by Hadjemadi and Flores led to a goal kick.
Schrock again provided another setup, this time with Porteria but the wingers shot hit the woodwork once again. Hadjemadi sent the ball to Sendra inside the box but the header went wide. An attempt from inside the box from Schrock was again saved by the keeper in the 88th.
A foul on De Murga inside the box force the referee to point to the spot. Substitute Bienvenido Maranon stepped up and shot straight to the middle to earn his 17th goal of the tournament. The match would finish with Ceres-Negros getting the 5-2 win.
“It was a hard game but the team was very happy with the result. We conceded the first goal we regained the lead and continued our winning ways,” said Ceres-Negros assistant Ian Treyes. “We dedicate this win to our fans in Negros,” he added.
“It’s not the game what we were expecting but we got the win, thats the most important thing,” said Lopez Mendy who was awarded the Man of the match. “Getting the scoresheet was because of the help of all in the team. The hardwork from everyone helped me to finsih the goals.”
The Busmen continued their winning ways and are now on 28 points followed by Kaya with 22. They will next play Stallion Laguna in the Aboitiz Pitch on August 14 at 7pm.