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Late Ben Tolete strike ensures Ilocos United, JPV-Marikina share points, frustration

Late Ben Tolete strike ensures Ilocos United, JPV-Marikina share points, frustration

A month can seem like a long time in football.

And for Japan-Philippines Voltes-Marikina, July seems like light years ago, as this time they suffered a 2-2 draw against Ilocos United at the Quirino Stadium in Ilocos Sur, Wednesday evening.

In early July, JPV-Marikina had been enjoying their reign at the top of the Philippines Football League. Meanwhile, Ilocos United had been languishing in the bottom of the table. The same could still be said about the Ilocanos now in the second week of August, but there has been a drastic change in the Marikeños’ fortunes since.

After enjoying a bountiful June with key victories over Ceres-Negros and Global-Cebu, Voltes fell to the then-unbeaten Meralco-Manila FC. And they have yet to recover as they lost three more games. It has seen them slip from first to fifth, with sixth-placed Stallion-Laguna closing in on them.

Facing winless Ilocos United, perhaps, offered the best chance for them to break the dry spell and get their campaign back on track. Yet it was not to be for JPV, after the Ilocanos dug deep to pick up a rare point in the league. Things could have gotten worse for the Marikina team early on as they went to halftime trailing 1-0. Kennedy Uzoka had given United the lead nine minutes before the break.

Known for their resilience, Voltes did not let the deficit dampen their mood. In fact, it encouraged them to step up. In doing so, they tallied two second half goals to swing the game’s flow in their favor. The first came from a rapid counterattack that caught the Ilocos defense off-guard. William Guerridon capped off the quick break with a beat finish to level the scores in the 50th minute.

Then in the 57th minute, the Marikeños accepted the gift of a chance from the hosts. What was supposed to be a routine catch for Baba Sampana led to a costly error that allowed Alen Angeles to embarrass the Ilocano defense. Just like that, and JPV had put their first half woes behind them.

With more than half an hour still left in the game, Ilocos worked hard to salvage at least a point in their seventh home game of the season. For the third time, United dodged defeat in Vigan. This time around, it was more dramatic than the previous matches. Deep into the sixth minute of added time, Ben Tolete, Jr. tapped the ball in to end the game with no winners between the two sides.

Ilocos United Coach Ian Gillan was not totally pleased by the outcome of the match. While he recognizes that a draw is better than a loss, the Englishman also remarked his team’s lack of finishing prowess.

“The draw was a disappointing result. It feels like a loss, we should have won that game. In the first half, we had four for chances to score and we didn’t capitalize. It’s not good enough,” Gillan elaborated.

Ilocos United’s next chance to collect their first win comes next week when they host Stallion-Laguna. JPV-Marikina will return home hoping to rediscover their winning touch when they meet Global-Cebu in the match on Sunday.