Melliza fires hat trick as Stallion Laguna downs Air Force in morning kickoff

By Ivan Saldajeno

BIÑAN—Jhan-Jhan Melliza continued his late surge in the PFL as Stallion Laguna hacked out a 4-1 win against Air Force in a rare morning action on Friday at the Biñan Football Stadium.

Melliza returned to action after missing Stallion Laguna's last match against Ceres Negros due to flu, and he never missed a beat from his previous hat trick against Global Makati as he once again struck thrice against Air Force in a game originally scheduled for Wednesday but was moved due to thunderstorm.

[Related Story: Thunderstorm washes out Stallion Laguna-Air Force clash]

However, it was Jowarren Bedia who drew first blood for Stallion Laguna, drilling in a 28th minute goal, eight minutes after Air Force's starting keeper John Delariate was sent off.

Melliza then came to work, drilling in goals in the 45th, 80th, and 83rd minutes for the 4-0 count.

But Stallion Laguna also found itself losing its starting keeper as Bitoy Rosalia was also handed a red card for a hard foul outside the box.

The said development cost the squad the clean sheet as Jake Hugo drilled an 86th minute consolation goal for Air Force against new primary netminder Nelson Gasic, who had to replace Bedia for Stallion Laguna to have a legit keeper.

Stallion Laguna strengthened its hold of third place as the team moved up to 36 points after 21 matches.

The win also kept the club's flickering hopes to steal second place from Kaya Iloilo as it is now within eight points of the reigning Copa Paulino Alcantara champion.

However, Kaya Iloilo has two matches at hand, and the team can seal second spot with a win against Mendiola at the Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa on Wednesday, the same day Stallion Laguna will host Green Archers United here.

Meanwhile, still at 11 points, Air Force, with the loss, can only finish the season as high as sixth place.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno