Ceres-Negros FC fell to 0-2 defeat against Stallion Laguna FC last October 25 at the Biñan Football Stadium. Gabriele Mascazzini and Balot Doctora were the scorers for the home side.
It was a tight first half for both squads. Stallion had a first try on goal but Mascazzini’s shot from outside the box was wide. Ceres had their initial attempt saved when Jeffrey Christaen’s shot from his weaker foot was saved by Benito Rosalia Jr in the 13th minute.
Rosalia again did well five minutes later after he handled Omid Nazari’s free kick from distance well. The visitor’s successive threats to the Stallion box was secured well by the home defense.
The action picked up after the hour mark after Mascazzini struck again from outside but Muller was ready for the attempt. The busmen had a good chance in the 36th minute when a teasing cross from Iain Ramsay was missed by Stephan Schrock but a rebound by Arnie Pasinabo was blocked by Rosalia using both feet. Carlie De Murga’s header from second succeeding corner was however wide.
The visitors pushed for a goal minutes from time with a reverse ball from Schrock after a run was cleared to the goal line by the defense. The succeeding corner saw Patric Reichelt header bounce off a defender at the near post.
Laguna threatened in the final minutes with plenty of good chances. Nathan Alquiros controlled the ball towards the path of goal for a near one-on-one but was chased down by Christaens just before he took a shot. Fitch Arboleda headed in a chance moments later but was wide.
Mascazzini had another chance from the wing that was tapped wide at the last minute by the keeper. Stallion won’t be denied in the last minute of injury time when Alquiros, who was deployed on the right flank, switched to his stronger left foot to send a cross in the box. The ball went to Mascazzini who was all alone to strike in the opening goal just before the halftime whistle.
With Ceres-Negros pushing for an equalizer at the start of the second half, it was Stallion who took advantage of the high line when another dangerous through ball to Alquiros forced Muller off his line for a save.
Stallion was eventually rewarded at the hour mark when Balot Doctora beat the offside trap for a one-on-one with the keeper. The veteran player made no mistake as he slotted one past Muller for the 2-0 advantage. They almost made it three when a team counter by Stallion forced Muller again off his line. Confusion in the offense saw Yannick Tuason taking a shot but it was blocked by the defense.
Substitute Joshua Grommen almost scored a go-ahead goal in the 66th but his header off a corner went straight to the keeper. Ramsay tried his luck minutes later but his shot from out wide was saved by Rosalia. Laguna threatened again with another counter through Arboleda but Muller was on point for the save.
Cards were given out minutes from time when Nicolas Ferrer kicked Schrock after an initial challenge by the veteran. A commotion ensued after and Ferrer was given a straight red. Schrock and Kevin Ingreso were also given yellows which makes them unavailable for the next match.
Both teams had their own cracks on goal but it was Stallion Laguna who came out with their first win versus Ceres Negros.
“They (Stallion) played better. They wanted it much more than us and this is very important,” said Coach Risto Vidakovic. “You know its not easy to play because the motivation is a very important factor in football. Today, maybe fifty percent of the players didn’t play how we expect from them so that’s why we lose and Stallion played good so they deserve to win,” added the Ceres mentor.
Vidakovic was quick to point out the lack of urgency from the team which translated to the result. “We are thinking that we are somebody already because we did something in the AFC, but it’s already is done. I talked to the players before the game and said the result is not important for us. I had to be honest about it. But they are going in without pressure, that’s also very bad for the players. It doesn’t mean that we have to stop to work. Some of them misunderstood and we have to change this mentality for the next game.”
Ceres-Negros will still play three consecutive games in Panaad against tougher opposition. They will face JPV Marikina on October 28 followed by the Davao Aguilas and FC Meralco Manila in November. The result meant that the Bacolod-based squad is still at third place with 42 points, six points off league leaders Meralco.