Stallion-Laguna FC turned things around in the second half for a 1-1 draw against Kaya-Iloilo FC in the Philippines Football League on Tuesday at the PFF national training center in Carmona town, Cavite.
Completely outplayed in the first half, Stallion-Laguna stormed back after the break as Argentine midfielder Ricardo Sendra fed teammate Janjan Melliza, who struck from 10 yards for the equalizer in the 79th minute.
That cancelled the goal by Kaya-Iloilo forward Joven Bedic, who caught Hayeson Pepito off guard just 10 minutes into the match to volley in from the left wing off a nifty pass by Kenshiro Daniels in the tournament presented by Qatar Airways.
The game marked the return of on the Stallion-Laguna bench of coach Ernie Nierras, who made sure his charges stayed confident after dropping a 2-1 decision to Manila Maharlika FC last weekend in the event also backed by the Games and Amusements Board.
It was the first draw for Kaya-Iloilo following two straight wins to drop them into second spot with 7 points in the shortened, single-round tournament.
“Stallion-Laguna worked harder in the second half, especially on their counterattacks,” said Japanese Kaya-Iloilo coach Yu Hoshide of the phlegmatic response of his squad in the second half. “It was our turn to be outplayed.”
Stallion-Laguna assistant coach Richard Leyble said it was the pressing of his squad and the entry of fresh legs, especially Sendra, in the second half that changed the complexion of the match.
“We began to play it higher in the second half plus our relievers picked up the tempo for us,” Leyble said.
Veteran forward Melliza acknowledged that with Nierras back to call the shots “mas nabuhayan kami ng loob. Mayroon na naman nagagalit sa amin.”