The early morning sounds of cocks crowing and men hawking taho aren’t the sounds you normally expect when you think of top-flight football, but that’s what we experienced earlier today in PFL action as Stallion Laguna FC and Philippine Air Force FC fulfilled their delayed mid-week game.
Originally scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, heavy rains and thunderstorms led to the postponement and odd rescheduling, and the morning chill drove both sides to start slow and warm up. The game turned early though as Stallion centerback Matt Nierras and netminder Bitoy Rosalia banged heads on an attempted clearance, and after a lengthy delay while medics assessed the situation, the hosts came out roaring. Twenty minutes into the match, Airmen netminder John Kent Delariarte received his marching orders after a sprawling challenge on Jo Warren Bedia a ways outside of the box, and while the resultant free kick spun wide it sent an ominous signal. 8 minutes later, Stallion started making the man advantage count, Bedia cutting across from the right and potting the ball in the back of the net to put Stallion in front, and the physicality ramped up from the Airmen. Little scrapes and pushes escalated to Stallion centerback taking an elbow to the forehead that required stitches, and it looked like boiling point would come sooner rather than later. On the point of added time however, Stallion got their cushion goal off a fine Janjan Melliza run, the forward netting his 3rd in two starts and setting up a 2-0 lead at the break.
The second half turned out to be much the same, with physicality and slow play ruling the roost, and a mirror-image involving Bitoy Rosalia receiving his own marching orders for a high collision with Airmen attacker Glenn Bulaquina outside the box. The next goal however would be a thing of beauty as Melliza skinned Airmen netminder Zaldy Abraham in the 80th minute with a number of dragbacks in the box before stroking it in. He then made it 4 and a hat-trick 4 minutes with a driving run to the box and a laser from the right. Air Force pulled 1 back for pride however, Vince Hugo capitalizing on a bobbled cross and tapping in in the 86th minute. The game petered out after, an electric encounter in the balmy morning heat.