NICK LEYDEN - Friday, April 1, 2011
Tony Taylor saw a quarter of an hour of action in Estoril's back and forth tie against Trofense, in which both teams had opportunities to secure all three points.
The promotion-shaping clash on Thursday night in the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota drew a noticeably larger crowd than normal, and the fans were treated to a fast-paced, suspenseful game which ended squared at two after substitute Clodoaldo leveled for the hosts in the 89th minute.
Knowing that victory could move Os Canarinhos to within just three points of a promotion spot, Vinícius Eutrópio trotted out a lineup similar to the one which was undefeated for seven consecutive games between January and March.
Leading scorer Alex Afonso and the on-fire Luís Leal started up top, pushing Taylor back to the bench after playing the full 90 in their previous Liga Orangina game.
The lineup paid dividends in the first half as Afonso and Leal proved hard to handle.
Afonso had a goal controversially called back but Leal gave the hosts a deserved one goal lead at the stroke of halftime with a rasping shot from outside the area.
Trofense knotted the score at one just minutes after the restart, though, when Licá found himself with only the ‘keeper to beat and tucked the ball past Cleber in the 48th minute.
Though the visitors had controlled the opening stages of the second half, Estoril had a golden opportunity to regain the lead in the 60th minute when the referee pointed to the spot after Afonso went down at the edge of the box.
Replays showed that the contact was minimal, and that it had actually occurred outside of the area, but nonetheless it was deemed a penalty.
Afonso stepped up to take the resulting spot kick himself, but the former Miami FC man hit a tame shot several feet inside the post that was fairly easily saved by Marco.
Licá made the hosts pay for their missed chance in the 71st minute when he again capitalized on a chance inside the box, giving Trofense a lead and setting them up to jump into first place with three points.
To chase the game and shift to a more attacking formation, Eutrópio inserted Taylor in the 76th minute for midfielder João Coimbra, who handed the captain's armband to diminutive Luciano Bebê.
Another striker, lumbering Brazilian Clodoaldo, was also introduced in the 82nd minute.
The changes by Eutropio, along with a more defensive approach by Trofense, allowed Estoril to boss the final 10 minutes.
The pressure paid off in the 89th minute when Jefferson advanced from his fullback position to win a ball in the attacking third and whip in a cross that Clodoaldo lobbed over the goalie with a back post header, tying the game at two apiece.
Taylor had struggled to make an impact immediately but he had several dangerous touches in stoppage time.
In the 91st minute some clever footwork beginning at the top corner of the penalty box brought him through three defenders toward the end line. He then sent an enticing cross through the area, but no one was in place to take advantage.
A minute later Taylor, again, received the ball at the top of the box but was stripped when attempting a cut back to set up a right footed shot.
Trofense's veteran captain, Tiago, then wasted a solid 30 seconds for the second time in a matter of minutes as he did his best to look concussed after a gentle knock on the head.
By the time the game restarted, the referee blew the final whistle and both teams left the field believing they should have taken home a victory.
The tie keeps Os Canarinhos in sixth place, six points out of the coveted second promotion spot.
They next take the field when they travel to Leixões next Saturday April 9th.