The PDL is heating up and if you pardon the pun, the Heat were took to task in Wednesday nights match with the Jesters proving that this Mid South Division is far from finalised.
Laredo Heat went into their home match on July 4th against New Orleans Jesters, on top of the league, equal on points with Austin Aztex but with a game in hand over their Central Texas rivals so a victory was crucial as we near the end of the current league if the Laredo side were to take steps into holding onto their divisional title.
The Jesters on the other hand have had a topsy turvy time of things recently, with some high scoring victories, defeats and draws during a turbulent series of matches in June.
It was top versus bottom in this match with many expecting a foregone conclusion to the match prior to kickoff. However, New Orleans hadn’t read the script and took the game to their illustrious continual title winning hosts right from the starting whistle.
Despite efforts for both teams in the first period of 45 minutes, it was the second half that lit the night up before the after match fireworks took over that role.
New Orleans took the lead six minutes into the second half with a slightly fortuitous goal when Tony Judice fired in a shot from the edge of the box that struck the right hand post before bouncing back to hit Laredo keeper Frias of the head and into the goal.
It was perhaps deserved as the shot had been well struck and had beaten the keeper on the ground but the manner it trundled into the net was heart sinking for the Laredo stopper and his team mates.
The Heat fans must be ruing each and every day that New Orleans are opponents as they have been somewhat of a bogey team to them this season and this game was proving to become yet another problem match for them.
For New Orleans players and fans, this was just another reason to celebrate. Taking the lead against the league leaders was something to shout about and if they left TAMIU with a victory, they would have blown the league wide open.
However, Laredo have been top dog in the league for a reason and never gave up hope that they could drag something from this match and even a point would give them the edge over rivals Austin with just three matches remaining after this particular one.
12 minutes, that’s all it took for the home side to equalizer and it was captain Juan de Dios Ibarra that that made the important breakthrough.
From a free kick some 30 yards out from goal and 10 yards from the throw in line, he swung in a curling ball that outwitted everyone in the box to bounce into the roof of the net despite the keeper getting a last second hand on it.
It was a truly bizarre goal, much like the opener from New Orleans but both ‘sparkling’ goals were setting up the fans to continue celebrating the July 4th firework show that was to preclude the match.
In the remaining time, Laredo peppered the Jester goal area in search of the winning goal but woodwork, goalkeeping skills and some unfortunate luck kept the home side at bay but they weren’t immune to coming under attack and Frias came to the rescue close to the end with a one handed save to keep the score line 1-1.
As Laredo kept pushing for the winner, both sides starting to get a bit nippy with each other, with yellow cards being dished out by the referee in an attempt to keep control and stop the match from boiling over.
The draw sees Laredo move into top spot on their own with 24 points from 13 matches. Austin sit only one point back, again having played 13 matches.
New Orleans moved up one spot to fifth with this point, leapfrogging West Texas Sockers in the procedure.
Laredo host New Orleans again on Friday evening in their final home match of the league season before making trips to West Sockers before finishing off against El Paso Patriots which could still prove to be a title winning tie.
The Patriots were also in action on Wednesday in Midland against the Sockers and came away with a tremendous 4-1 victory that moved the Patriots into a strong third spot placing with 20 points from 13 matches played.
This victory sees them within only one victory away from Austin who they play on Sunday 8th in what will be classed as a proverbial six pointer. The El Paso side also face Laredo in their final match so between the three teams, the league leaders could still change hands a couple of time before a winner is eventually decided.
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