After two consecutive defeats, coach Scott Cooper and the rest of the Azkals Development Team said enough is enough as they finally notch a win in the Philippines Football League brought to you by Qatar Airways at the expense of Mendiola FC 1991.
From the first whistle ’till the last one, the Azkals Development Team got their passes clicking and kept the pressure on the back four of Mendiola FC 1991.
Matchday 3. Match #1. Mendiola FC 1991 took on the Azkals Development Team. Mendiola, coming back from a 6-0 thrashing in the hands of United City FC. Meanwhile, ADT is still in a good upward momentum after holding down, and keeping up with (some would even say dominated) another title contender in Kaya-Iloilo despite losing by just a goal.
The first half tipped momentum in favor of the ADT, pressing the league veterans high up on their own third and piling up on good chances and movements.
Mendiola had to rely on the sheer will and experience of their back line to thwart a repetitive ADT assault.
The youthful ADT used their speed and fitness to press high on defense and pounced on Mendiola’s defenders whenever a chance opens up.
One good ADT effort came in a form of a Chima Uzoka strike bound for the lower right corner. It was saved by Kenry Balobo though it should’ve been a routine save, but Balobo almost let it slip through his gloves.
By the 35th minute, ADT continues their assault, focusing on the wings with Lance Ocampo on the right and Jarvey Gayoso on left. They continue to supply the ball into the box trying to find fellow white-shirts unmarked.
On the other side, Mendiola employed counter attacks. They were looking to crowd ADTs box as their midfields swarm ahead of the ball. But they just can’t seem to find that decisive pass.
We got an early sub in the 39th minute, with Carlo Dorin coming in for Ocampo. It looked to be a like-for-like sub. But it was a bit surprising considering that Ocampo was doing a good job pressing Mendiola’s right side.
The dying minutes had no shortage of action as Christian Rontini got a yellow card around the 43rd minute which would then mean he will lose the next match due to accumulated yellow cards.
Ashley Flores was almost away after nicking the ball from him, but he didn’t want to let him through cleanly. The free-kick led to nothing though, as the corresponding cross was wasted with a poor header.
This was followed by another yellow card on the other end when a dangerous play was called on the Mendiola Custodian, Balobo. It was a hard tackle on ADT’s Yrick Gallantes who was almost free.
A penalty was given on the 45-minute mark, as Joshua Polinag hit Mar Vincent Diano from behind during the corner scramble. A definite yellow for being too rough inside the box on your former UE Teammate.
It was an almost sure goal before the break, but Marvin Angeles’ penalty was saved by Balobo, and his follow-up shot hits the post. The ball was eventually cleared. Unbelievably, the first half ends all square.
A minute after the start, Gayoso took one from inside the box, but it was just too high. Mendiola doesn’t seem as compressed during defense as with UCFC with the line slightly wider and with the attacking wingers getting marked better.
But with ADT still pressing high, almost taking the ball and getting away on occasion. Polinag was notably being a rock in defense taking on attackers before things get messy.
In the 62nd minute, Ivan Ouano was tackled and went down badly. He fell on his ankle on his way down and had to be carried off because of the possible injury.
Fresh legs were introduced on the 63rd minute with Dave Deloso for James Pangasian for Mendiola. It was still goal-less by the 70th minute with both teams now fighting hard to gain the upper hand.
But two minutes later, Dimitri Limbo found an open Gayoso in the box. Making that fantastic delivery. Gayoso had to fend off his mark to score a glancing header. A quick counter from the left-wing.
A free kick in the 80th minute was taken by Gayoso forcing a save that led to a scramble in front of goal. The ball ended in front of an unmarked Custodio who will not miss from point-blank.
ADT was still pressing on, seemingly going for a third. But they seemed to take their foot off the pedal as they wind down around the 86th minute. Mendiola looks gassed out as they no longer look to push hard defensively.
Mendiola was really showing more gaps in their marking as plenty of free ADT players roam the box when a delivery comes from the wing in the dying minutes.
The game ends in spectacular fashion as league newcomers, the young guns of the Azkals Development Team win 2-nil against an experienced, gritty, and determined Mendiola FC 1991.
The man of the match, Jarvey Gayoso, was asked about his preferred playing position in Scott Cooper’s team, but instead of showing a preference, he responded that “I will play wherever he [Cooper] wants me to play.” showing his complete faith in the English gaffer.
But because playing Gayoso in a more advanced position paid dividends for the team, Cooper said that the additional options now gives him more “food for thought”.
On the other end of the locker room, Coach Dan Padernal said that they hope to work on fitness. The goals conceded was, in part, because of his players tiring out on the latter half, taking risks that didn’t pay well for his team.
Mendiola will have to bring their A-game next match day as they’ll be up against title contenders Kaya-Iloilo while the ADT’s new found momentum will be tested by another powerhouse in Stallions Laguna.