What a month apart from those two defeats.
Season Three Episode Four: Continuing the Good Form
Seb Platter’s career started in the best possible way, as his team were topping the league, and had won seven of the first eight matches in the season. Away against Chiriquí, the 23-year-old manager was looking to extend the winning streak to seven. But despite controlling the match, the Reds had 61% of the ball, they failed to win, as Chiriqui won through a 72nd-minute goal. Numbers two also lost, so San Francisco held onto their three-point-lead.
The next match was a home match against Plaza Amador, a team San Francisco had already lost twice against in the season. Platter was itching to set the record straight, and win against their bogey team in a home game. Jonathan Bonilla was the big man this match, scoring a brace for the home team in the first half. Amador didn’t manage to come back from this two-goal deficit, but did manage to score a consolation goal in the 83rd minute, which made the final score 2-1 to San Fran.
Next was an away match against numbers last Chepo FC. The fans were expecting a win after the club’s great start to the league campaign, and they were already dreaming about winning the Opening Stage. San Fran didn’t have any trouble with out-of-shape Chepo, as they won 3-1. The first goal came straight from kick-off, and Platter’s men controlled the match for 90 minutes.
After the away match against Chepo, another away match was on the program. This time it was a match against Alianza FC, a team San Francisco had scored seven goals against in the past two matches. This game, however, was less of a success, and Platter’s players only managed to score once, against the three goals scored by Alianza. Luckily, numbers two Tauro FC also slipped up, as they drew against Chiriqui. The gap between Tauro and San Fran was still two points.
Following this disappointing loss, Platter knew it was very important to win the next match, because losing twice in a row could be the start of a long losing streak. The team played a home match against Árabe Unido, numbers three in the competition. Through a brace by McTaggart, the home team were up 2-0 after only 20 minutes, but after these two quick goals, the team got a bit complacent: Daniel Lopez scored the 2-1 after 36 minutes. However, San Fran quickly regained focus and eventually won 3-1.
On the 14th matchday of the season, San Francisco hosted CA Independiente in their local derby. In the away match of the opening stage, San Fran won 6-0 against Independiente, and they were hoping to win this edition of the La Chorrera-derby as well. After 75 minutes, there had been no goals. The match looked like finishing in a 0-0 draw, but through two late goals, Platter’s team managed to win this derby as well.
The match all of Panama was waiting for was next: Tauro FC in a home match against San Francisco FC. The clash between the hunter and the hunted. The clash between the runners-up and the league leaders. Despite all this build-up and tension before the game, the match itself failed to live up to the high expectations. It finished 0-0, and this was a fair results when looking at the stats.
In the home match against promoted team AFC Eurokickers, playmaker Milan, who had been injured for the past five weeks, made his long-awaited comeback. Platter’s men had to try and extend their unbeaten streak to four matches. And they did, through two goals from that very same Milan. The attacking midfielder was delighted to be back on the pitch after his spell on the sidelines, and was also delighted that his team managed to win upon his return.
Next was an away game against Chorrillo, who were fifth in the league before their home match against San Francisco. Just before half-time, another player returning from injury gave the away side the lead. In the 58th minute, Edinson Villalba equalised for the home team, and Platter wasn’t happy with how his team played. He encouraged them from the sideline, and that eventually led to McTaggart scoring the winning goal for San Fran. The manager was happy, but demanded more commitment from his complacent team.
The last match of the opening stage was one without any importance for San Fran. Because their chasers Tauro had slipped up quite a lot in the league, San Francisco’s lead was now seven points, so with one match left, they had already claimed the first place in the league, which meant they were one of four teams to participate in the play-offs: the number one played the number four twice, and the runners up faced the numbers three twice as well. The winners of both matches then played each other in a grand finale, which would decide who won the opening stage.
But before playing the play-offs, there was one more match, which, as said before, wasn’t an important one. Despite that, Platter still wanted his team to give their all, and that is exactly what his side did, in a home match against Chiriquí. Top scorer of the opening stage Eduardo McTaggart scored his 14th goal of the season in his 18th appearance in the 19th minute, which eventually turned out to be the only goal of the game. San Fran extended their unbeaten spell to six matches, and they went into the play-offs confident.