A Loyola Meralco side without two of its most celebrated players still proved too good for a listless Green Archers United team, scoring a 2-0 victory to grab the provisional lead in the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig Tuesday night.
Despite missing some clear-cut chances and the services of James and Phil Younghusband, the Sparks remained on target as they drew goals from Byeong Yeol Jeong and Mark Hartmann to increase their point total to 19 points in seven games.
The Sparks also dealt the fifth loss of the Archers, who remained in seventh place with four points.
The Sparks played without the Younghusbands, who are set to see action for the Philippine Azkals in the coming AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers starting this weekend.
After numerous bungled attempts against an Archers squad that was also without Azkals skipper Chieffy Caligdong, the Sparks were finally rewarded 28 minutes into the game when the Korean Jeong struck from just outside the box.
Hartmann added to the lead when he scored off a rebound off his own miss nine minutes before second-half stoppage time.
“We made hard work of it. If we made the chances, it would’ve been five or six-nil, but at least we won,” Hartmann said, with special mention to the defense shown by his squad led by center-back Chad Gould and goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma.
“In spite of being disheartened by the lack of conversion, we kept a clean sheet so that’s most important,” Sparks coach Vince Santos added.