Ceres-Negros FC succumbed to a 1-2 loss against an defiant Meralco Manila last August 16 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City. The Busmen went two goals down in the second half but a late fightback wasn’t enough to maintain their unbeaten run at home.
The home squad played a lethargic first half leaving the visitors with space to create chances in the danger area. This was highlighted by twin chances from Jake Morallo who skied a one-on-one attempt and missed another to the relief of the home crowd.
The second half started on a more promising note with both teams elevating the action but it was Meralco who broke the ice in the match. Curt Dizon struck from a tight angle after a few minutes from the restart to put the Manila squad ahead. Negros pushed hard to get an equalizer but it was Manila who took advantage with less than twenty minutes from time. Simon Greatwich scored the second for the visitors after directing a Gerardo Valmayor cutback to the top corner.
Ceres-Negros pulled a goal back when Manuel “Super” Herrera headed in goal from a corner kick to make things interesting for the home fans. It was however a little too late as Meralco Manila defended will till the end to maintain the scoreline and score the stunning win in Bacolod.
“The club needs to travel very well in their next journey after the Phil and James Younghusband time, said Meralco Coach Aris Caslib after the match when asked about the clubs current streak after the departure of their stars. “Simon (Greatwich) and the entire organization of the FC Meralco Manila, I think were doing it slow(ly). We wanted to be assured every step right now and one good thing is everyone is up to the challenge,” he added.
The former national coach had some kind words to the hosts in their first PFL experience in Panaad. “I think Ceres FC and the people of Negros has set the standard in the country right now. The kind of organization in preparing for competition and how the club has been improving at the Asian level. All these things manifest on how football is being taken care of in Negros. It only shows one thing, the passion is tremendous,” said Caslib before wishing Ceres-Negros good luck in the upcoming AFC Cup match.
Ceres Coach Risto Vidakovic didn’t mince words in his teams performance against Meralco. “I think we never played good in this game today. Too much confidence maybe, or maybe tired. I don’t know. If you play three games in nine days, its not easy. Especially for us we played a very important game game with many emotions against Home United. After that, it’s not easy to get motivation,” said Vidakovic.
“But this is not an excuse, I think the opponent played very good. They played defensively very strong and very aggressive. For me sometime’s its too much but that’s we have. I think they deserve to win because they never played like today. I think it was a very uncomfortable game for us today so I think they deserve the win,” he added.
After completing their PFL matches, Ceres-Negros will now set their sights to Dushanbe where they will face FC Istiklol in the first leg of the Inter-Zone semifinals on August 22. The club will face a long journey to the Tajikistan capital starting Friday to face the winners of the Central Asia Zone of the AFC Cup.