By Drew Malihan
MANILA - Jim Ashley Flores’ sole goal was enough for Mendiola FC 1991 to earn full three points as they downed Green Archers United, 1-0 in the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara at the Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa on Wednesday night.
Both sides looked to work each other early in the game but the backline proved enough to spoil chances.
It was only in the 18th minute when Flores breezed in quickly past GAU’s defense and scored the one and only goal of the match.
Green Archers kept on looking for a possible chance for an equalizer but cannot find its way to the back of the net.
Argentinian midfielder Ricardo Sendra found Flores inside the penalty box on the 40th minute but was ruled offside by the referee.
JR Sandoval opened another opportunity for Mendiola, finding Flores once more inside the box and has all but the finish.
Ivorian keeper Dini Ouattara had his presence felt as well in the final minute of the first half, denying an opportunity from GAU to end the first half 1-0 for Mendiola.
The men in blue looked for a stronger second half with Tolits Cubon on the receiving end of a corner but cannot convert it to a goal.
Both sides had counters after counters until it was Aaron Altiche who found Flores with some good space to work and all but the finish.
Substitute midfielder Stephen Appiah, who came in the first half for Kim Hyun-koon, fancied a shot outside the box but Ouattara was there to clear the shot.
Mendiola defender Souleymane Ndepe meanwhile found Flores on the other end but Henry Bandeken Fong denied the opportunity.
Frustrations build up for Green Archers as Tolits Cubon was sent off in the 78th minute after pushing Papuh Corsame om the ground and attempting a punch on the Mendiola forward.
With their backs against the wall, Fong stepped up for Green Archers, denying every Mendiola opportunity, but his off-field teammates found the opponent’s defense too tough to handle up to the end of the match.
Mendiola’s win put them in second place with four points behind group leaders Ceres-Negros on goal difference, while GAU settled on last place of Group A, still looking for their first point of the cup.
Green Archers will try to end its Copa tourney on high against Ceres on Nov. 6 in Lipa while Mendiola looks to earn a semifinals berth as they will face the Azkals under-22 squad in Biñan.
Follow him on Twitter: @drewmalihan