GREEN Archers United withstood a brave stand by Kaya FC to hack out a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night in the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium.
Underachieving in past games, the Archers finally put up a worthy showing against a title contender to grab just their second win in 10 games and join Pachanga in sixth spot.
"It was one of the best games we had this season," said Archers coach Rodolfo Alicante, whose squad prevailed despite continuing to miss the services of injured skipper Chieffy Caligdong. "We deserved to win this game."
A stunning long-range missile from Jessie Martindale proved to be the difference in the tightly-contested affair for the Archers, who also drew goals from Dodong Villareal and Tating Pasilan.
The Archers thus further prevented Kaya from inching closer to leaders Loyola and Global as the third-running side remained stuck with 20 points, nine behind the Sparks, although with a game still at hand.
“It’s a bit premature to talk about title races,” Kaya coach David Perkovic said as the league approaches its midway point. “There’s a lot of football to be played.”
“Yeah, we have a lot of ground to make up, but if we just look at the gap (between us and leaders), we’ll never make it up,” the Australian mentor added.
Held to a goalless draw by a 10-man Stallion side just last Sunday, a weary Kaya side struggled anew two nights later as the title darkhorses saw themselves on the back foot when Pasilan put the Archers on the board with a strike off Robert Mendy 38 minutes into the game.
Janrick Soriano, who came off the Kaya bench in the 53rd minute, made an instant impact a minute later when the offensive sparkplug scored off a Kenshiro Daniels feed to equalize the count.
After the Archers regained the lead when Villareal scored on a remarkable free kick that first hit the crossbar, before going inside the net in the 59th minute, Kaya knotted the score anew 10 minutes later when Anton del Rosario converted a header off a free kick.
That set the stage for the heroics of Martindale, who was given time and space to strike from near centerfield past the outstretched arms of Kaya goalkeeper Nick O’Donnell and into the bottom left corner of the net.
While Martindale shone on offense, Patrick Deyto, fresh from his scintillating Azkals debut, delivered on the other end, rejecting a handful of shots from a stubborn Kaya side.