By Ferdin Sanchez
Everything looked set for a fantastic debut of the Philippines Football League in Mindanao soil as pre-match hype and rigorous preparations hoped to propel the home side to an inspired display in front of a raucous 4,384-strong crowd.
However, JPV Marikina had other plans as they spoiled the party with a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Davao Aguilas at the Davao Del Norte Sports Complex in Tagum.
A worn-out, wet pitch made it hard for the players to acclimatize themselves to the conditions but Takashi Odawara capitalized with an instinctive finish after only two minutes from kick-off to put the visitors in front.
However, only 6 minutes after the goal, Dylan De Bruycker was again on target to put the ball past Gasic.
From then on, it was all JPV Marikina. Capitalizing on the sloppy mistakes of Davao at the back and wayward passes by goalie Marko Trkulja, veteran midfielder Boyet Canedo struck from a freekick from just outside the box after a foul by Aguilas captain Jason Cordova.
Just before the halftime whistle, Marikina custodian Gasic was called into action with an instinctive save from a 30-yard screamer by Papua New Guinea international Brad MacDonald.
In the second half, Davao continued to look vulnerable form the counter-attack, struggling to contain the likes of Takumi Uesato and John Celiz from marauding along the flanks.
The visitors looked to put the final nail on the coffin after Uesato scored from a free header coming off a corner as the Aguilas’ defending looked tired and distraught.
De Bruycker pulled one back from the penalty spot for the Aguilas to set up a thrilling end, only to be frustrated by a resilient JPV backline.
The win earned the Marikina s quad their first three points of the PFL season while the Aguilas remain near the bottom with a point after last week’s draw away at Ilocos United.