NICK LEYDEN - Monday, March 21, 2011
Tony Taylor made a rare start for Estoril in a loss to Aves while Greg Garza watched from the bench.
In the midst of a seven game unbeaten run, and with a pivotal clash against fellow promotion chasers Trofense looming, Coach Vinícius Eutrópio fielded a largely second-choice team when Os Canarinhos visited Vila das Aves, a tiny northern town whose entire population could likely fit in the stadium.
Taylor replaced leading scorer Alex Afonso in the starting eleven, lining up alongside Luís Leal who has become Estoril's most dangerous attacker in recent weeks. It was just Taylor's second Liga Orangina start this season, and the first game action he has seen in three weeks.
Eutrópio also chose to rest midfield engine Luciano Bebê and regular right back Anderson Luis, while stalwarts João Coimbra and Jefferson missed out through suspension. In their places were Nelsinho, Erick and the seldom used Murilo Ceará and Bruno Nascimento.
Garza, who will be joining the US U-20s shortly, was also handed a rare call-up to the first team, though the Texas native was not utilized as a substitute.
The red-hot visitors started well and took a deserved lead in the 36th minute when Leal neatly rounded the Aves ‘keeper and slotted home from a tight angle.
Aves were able to equalize just seconds before the interval, however, when Tozé Marreco emphatically banged in a Vasco Matos cross from just above the six.
Estoril had a golden opportunity to restore their lead early in the second half when Helder Godinho was unable to hold Leal's drive. The rebound fell to the normally reliable Da Cunha, but the Brazilian midfielder somehow contrived to send his shot off the crossbar from ten yards out with the goal gaping.
In the 70th minute the hosts made Os Canarinhos pay when substitute Marco Cláudio nodded the go ahead goal into the bottom corner.
Within minutes Eutrópio sent on Bebê and Afonso for Nelsinho and Ceará, but they were unable to conjure an equalizer. Leal came close in stoppage time, when his right footed shot struck the post, but that was the last chance Estoril would have, especially after Carlos Eduardo was dismissed for his second yellow in the 92nd minute.
The loss temporarily puts Estoril in sixth place, seven points behind league leading Oliveirense. They will host second place Trofense on March 31st.