Sparks Win Hard-Fought Derby vs Kaya Makati - Philippines Football League
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Sparks Win Hard-Fought Derby vs Kaya Makati

A pair of goals from Tahj Minniecon gave FC Meralco Manila a 2-1 victory over rival Kaya on Saturday night in Rizal Memorial.

The result, Manila’s second win over Makati this season, lifts them back on top of the Philippines Football League table with 30 points, two above Global, who came back to beat Ilocos 2-1 earlier in the day. Kaya drop to third.

A sore hamstring meant Joaco Cañas could not start for Manila, and Neil Dorimon took his place. Manila coach Aris Caslib also made another change in goal, bringing in Jun Badelic for Ace Villanueva. Kaya, on the other hand, were sans the services of the suspended Jovin Bedic.

Connor Tacagni nearly scored for the home side in the third minute but he headed wide. Kaya’s Woody Ugarte shot over the bar five minutes later, and before the first quarter of the game concluded Manila saw attempts from Milan Nikolic, Tacagni again, and Daniel Gadia miss the mark.

But the Sparks went ahead in the 23rd after an errant pass from the Kaya midfield was gobbled up by Curt Dizon, who laid the ball to a streaking Minniecon, who beat Ref Cuaresma from the right flank for 1-0.

In the second half Minniecon and Gadia narrowly missed chances to make it 2-0 while at the hour mark Kenshiro Daniels was just ove the bar off a long range free kick that would have put the visitors level.

In the 64th Kaya’s Jordan Mintah spurned a gilt-edged opportunity when he headed a point-blank chance straight to Badelic.

But with ten minutes left Kaya drew level when a Mintah header from an acute angle clanged off Milan Nikolic and into the net for 1-1. The Serbian also unluckily turned the ball into his own net last Wednesday against Global.

But with seven minutes to go Dizon was felled in the box by Kaya defender Alfred Osei, and referee Steve Supresencia awarded a penalty to the hosts. Minniecon stroked the spot kick to the left of Kaya goalie Ref Cuaresma for 2-1.

Makati thought they had equalized immediately when Robert Lopez Mendy found the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed for offside, with some members of the Kaya camp feeling it was an incorrect call.

Minutes later a Kaya penalty shout was ignored by the ref when Eric Giganto fell in the box

In the last chance of the game Mendy pulled a 1v1 attempt to the left.

“The match itself speaks for the quality of the players,” said Caslib after the game
His charges ended Kaya’s impressive 7-match unbeaten run.

“The message to the team before the game was that the bench must step up, and they did,” added Caslib, who brought in Anto Gonzales in the crucial final minutes of the contest. The 36-year old UP coach was brought back into the roster during the window after serving on the coaching staff for the first part of the season.

“It was a tough game. Things kind of fell our way,” said Minniecon, who earned his third Man Of The Match award of the campaign.

Minniecon succeeded in his penalty attempt, the Sparks’ first since the departure of their usual taker, Phil Younghusband.

“I told (captain) Simon Greatwich that I wanted it because I felt confident. So I took it.”

“We have to play two halves of quality football. That’s how the game goes,” said Kaya coach Noel Marcaida.

Photo and article from FC Meralco Manila