PFL: FC Meralco Manila remains unbeaten against JPV Marikina
(Photo courtesy of FC Meralco Manila on Facebook)
FC Meralco Manila grabbed their second win of the season against JPV Marikina last Saturday night via a 2-1 scoreline. There was a familiar ending too: a second half James Younghusband header to seal the three points.
The win strengthens Manila's hold on the top spot in the PFL, at 23 points they are now 5 clear of second place Marikina.
The Sparks entered the game welcoming back Tahj Minniecon and Milan Nikolic from suspension. Meanwhile JPV were without CB Camelo Tacusalme and striker Takumi Uesato, both injured.
The scoring began on a bizarre note in the 23rd minute when JPV center back Masaaki Yanagawa and Marikina keeper Nelson Gasic miscommunicated, resulting in the Japanese vet nodding the ball into his own goal to the delight of the home support in Rizal Memorial.
Butthe visitors leveled when John Celiz pounced on an error by Spark Daniel Gadia and fed Satoshi Otomo, who expertly beat Manila GK Junjun Badelic in the top corner.
In the second half Phil Younghusband nearly put the Sparks back in front but his effort sailed over.
At the hour mark Manila coach Aris Caslib withdrew Simon Greatwich and brought on James Younghusband for his second appearance off the bench in as many games. The Azkal is still getting a gimpy ankle back in the groove.
The change paid dividends in the 67th when Spark Tyler Matas was given a throw-in in the left flank. The Hawaiian - Pinoy heaved it straight to James, who flicked it behind him past Gasic for 2-1.
In the previous meeting between the teams in May, the elder Younghusband also scored with a header in the only goal of the game.
The score is also Matas' second assist off a long throw this season. He also supplied Joaco Cañas the service when the Spaniard scored against Kaya.
When Gadia was sent off for a second yellow minutes later Manila's resolve was tested, but the team only needed to survive close late attempt by Takashi Odawara to earn the win.
Minniecon, who was tireless in creating up top, won a second man of the match award of the season.
"Our bench was the difference, " said Caslib afterwards, noting the contribution of James and Ashley Flores.
The coach also praised Matas saying "he plays like a horse on the field and is also so humble."
"Pag nandyan si Uesato magiiba ang storya" said Marikina gaffer Dan Padernal who sees his team's remarkable five game win streak halted.
Cañas was stretchered off the pitch in the dying minutes after taking a hit on his shin. The early prognosis is a deep cut.
Manila next plays Ceres at home on.