The morning sun beating down upon the pitch in Carmona had nothing on the intensity of the action as Stallion Laguna FC and Maharlika Manila FC kicked off this weekend’s tripleheader in the 2020 Philippines Football League presented by Qatar Airways.
The boys in pink, taking their bows for the first time this season, started nrightly, zipping the ball around with impetus and drive as Maharlika settled into a low block early on, with netminder Henri Bandeken Fong coming in with crucial stops, along with a couple of skied chances from Stallion.
The Raging Horses got their due though in the 28th minute as Inrahima Ndour opened proceedings, the Senegalese man slotting in from a peach of a ball lifted in from Dodong Villareal, and despite several more opportunities, halftime saw the game be 1-0.
The second half was a different story though, as Maharlika came out with a smart adjustment to a 4-3-3 and played with more impetus, and it paid off in spades, completely turning the momentum of the match as Stallion imploded.
Jose Montelibano, who only came in for Maharlika 4 minutes after the resumption of play, made an instant impact by latching on to an MJ Libre through ball in the 53rd minute to knot things up, and from there the men in white completely turned up the pressure, choking Stallion build-up play and throwing wave after wave of attacking play at them, helped out by Gary Epesso’s herculean frame drawing attention every time he touched the ball.
The dagger though came in the 75th minute as another substitute in Jeremy Theuer latched on to a Charlie Beaton ball from a blistering run and slotted in the gamewinner past a game Nelson Gasic. Stallion pushed and prodded for an equalizer late but in the end, Maharlika FC notched their first win in the professional ranks.
Stallion Laguna – Gasic, Belgira, Nierras, Villareal, Regala, Doctora(C), Arboleda, Melliza(Ferrer 51′[Kalukaran 75′]), Ndour(28′), McDaniel(Bonney 75′), Bedia(Angeles 61′)
Maharlika Manila – Bandeken, del Rosario, Amisola(Montelibano 49′[goal 53′]), Yuhico, Basa, Barbaso, Beaton(Varley 90′), Tuason, Pusing, Libre(Theuer 73′[goal 75′]), Epesso
Photo Credits: Philippines Football League