DEFENDING champion Stallion made do with a weary, undermanned squad as it forced Green Archers United to a 2-2 draw on opening night of the United Football League on Saturday at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
Despite three of their foreign recruits still feeling the jetlag after arriving only either the other day or the previous night, and skipper Ruben Doctora out with fever, the Stallions bucked an early deficit before holding off the Archers in the second half to escape with the fighting result.
“I’m happy I got away with a tie. I could’ve lost it easily,” said Stallions coach Ernie Nierras, who still has two foreigners flying in the next few days.
The Stallions and Archers thus ended up with a point apiece to trail the day’s earlier winner, Pachanga-Diliman, which registered three points after blanking Socceroo in the Division 1 curtain-raiser.
“Maganda na ‘to sa samin, pero we expected to win against Stallion,” Archers coach Rodolfo Alicante said. “Bago ang mga players ng Stallion so I thought meron kaming konting advantage.”
Chieffy Caligdong gave the Archers the early cushion with a strike seven minutes into the game, before Hamed Hajimehdi, one of the Stallion’s foreign acquisitions, knotted the count with a penalty conversion in the 22nd minute.
Gab Olowoyeye regained the lead for the Archers after scoring off a Caligdong assist in the 33rd minute, before another Stallion foreign addition Rafael Gomez, who flew in Friday night, equalized the count anew with a close-range strike two minutes before first-half stoppage time.
After a high-scoring first half, the Archers grabbed the lion’s share of possession, but failed to finish off a Stallion side that’s still reeling from the departure of its stars during their breakthrough title run last year.
Dodong Villareal had two clear-cut chances that failed to find the back of the net within the final 45 minutes of action.