Top seed still up for grabs as Manila, Negros draw in Carmona

Manila will still have to wait until Tuesday if the team will finally lock in the top seed in the PFL semis. Negros, however, can steal it with a win at Cebu. FC Meralco Manila
By Dugout Philippines

CARMONA--FC Meralco Manila and Ceres Negros produced a goalless draw in the first ever Philippines Football League game played at the new PFF pitch Friday afternoon.

Jinggoy Valmayor won Man of the Match honors for several dangerous chances that did not result in goals.

The draw keeps Meralco atop the league standings with 58 points as their regular season is over.

Ceres, a point away at 57, can still get the best regular season record next week with a win at Cebu. A draw will also give the Negrosanons top seed thanks to their excellent goal difference.

The match was played in the pitch inside the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park because Rizal Memorial was booked for the first match day of NCAA Season 93 football.

It was a tight affair in the first half with a weary Negros team unable to generate much offense. Only Tahj Minniecon, wearing the captain's armband, and Jim Ashley Flores were able to force easy saves from Negros keeper Roland Müller.

There was more of the same in the second half with Alvin Sarmiento shooting at Muller in the 66th.

Three minutes later Valmayor teased the top left corner with a left-footed chance then ten minutes later volleyed high.

The best chance of the game came with six minutes to go when Curt Dizon was on target with a free kick but Muller did well to palm the ball over the bar.

A minute later Dizon hit the post from the right side and in the ensuing scramble Flores shot from a tight angle and was saved.

The match ended on a sour note for Manila, the provisional home team, as late substitute David Pusing was sent off for a studs up challenge mere seconds after coming in. The call was disputed by the Sparks staff.

"It was very important to keep the players free from injury," explained Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic after.

"No injuries means a successful day for us."

The Busmen play Global in their last game next week and a good result secures a top seed going into the four team Finals Series.

"We will go to Cebu to compete," said Vidakovic.

"Hats off to our players who played with so many starters unavailable," said Manila coach Aris Caslib.

Meralco was without Milan Nikolic, Joaco Cañas, Daniel Gadia, and Tyler Matas, who were all suspended because of accumulated yellow cards.

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