NICK LEYDEN - Sunday, January 9, 2011
Tony Taylor returned to action as a second half substitute for Estoril but couldn't prevent Os Canarinhos from crashing at home against league leaders Feirense.
Estoril welcomed Feirense to the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota on Saturday afternoon, hoping a victory would solidify their place in the promotion race.
But a solitary strike from Diogo Cunha sent the visitors back to Santa Maria da Feira with the victory, despite the fact that Estoril was the superior team for the majority of the game.
After missing last week's loss to Penafiel through injury Taylor returned to Os Canarinhos' roster, but the Floridian began the game on the bench with Vinícius Eutrópio preferring to pair Alex Afonso and Luis Leal up top.
It was Leal who had the best chance of the first half after miscommunication between Feirense's goalkeeper, Marco Sousa, and Nuno Henrique gave the speedy striker a clear chance on goal in the 22nd minute.
Sousa had left his area to make a clearance, but appeared to be confused by Henrique's presence, and both players waited for the other to make the play. Eventually Sousa toed the ball tamely towards the sideline, only for Leal to intercept it and send a curling shot at the undefended goal, missing by mere inches.
Estoril may have entered the locker room disappointed with the goalless scoreline, but they would surely have liked their chances in the second half, especially as Feirense's Brazilian midfielder, Thiago, was issued his second yellow card with less than a minute before the interval.
Os Canarinhos used the numerical advantage to pressure Feirense early in the second half, but Cunha gave the guests the lead against the run of play in the 57th minute.
Cleber could only parry Carlos Fonseca's long distance effort, and with Cunha all alone inside the six the rebound was easily tucked away.
Eutrópio immediately made an offensive change, bringing on Taylor for midfielder Tiago Costa. But with a lead on the road, and playing down a man, Feirense effectively packed the defense for the remaining half hour and killed off the game.
Estoril actually played the final 15 minutes with four strikers, after Clodoaldo replaced another midfielder, João Coimbra, but they were unable to create any serious threats in the waning stages of the game.
The win gives Feirense a three point cushion in first place, while Taylor and company sit in eighth, though depending on the results of a full slate of Sunday games Os Canarinhos could drop even further.
Next up for Estoril is a visit to Gil Vicente on Saturday.