The exhilarating match last night kicking off the Blue Ridge Derby against Chattanooga FC and Asheville City SC ended in a tie. Both teams started off the match strong and ready on a beautiful Wednesday night down at Finley Stadium. A passionate crowd gathered to cheer on the boys in blue.
There were several attempts at goal right off for both teams. A foul in the 14th minute create a threatening free-kick in the box for Asheville SC, but the CFC boys defended their goal well and held the score to 0-0. Possession remained equal in the first part of the first half, but physicality increased as both teams looked to get ahead on the scoreboard.
The first yellow card was given in the 23rd minute of play to Asheville. This set the tone for the remainder of the match and the intensity between fans, refs, and players only continued to rise through the game.
Juan Hernandez’s shot on goal and Luke Winter’s breakaway created several goal scoring opportunities for CFC in the later part of the first half. CFC clearly took over possession with several turnovers, but the score remained tied.
At the end of the first half, the keeper for Asheville received a yellow card for pushing Daniel Valenciano back to the ground after contact. But, shortly after, CFC keeper Nick Croucher received a yellow card after contact in the box between players over possession of the ball. The call was changed to a straight red, sending him out for the rest of the game and forcing CFC to continue the rest of the match playing with a man down. Fans were furious at the referee’s decision for giving the red and thought it was a bit of an extreme reaction to the play. As a result, Tom Halsall played the remainder of the match in goal for CFC and Winter came off the field leaving the team to play with only 10 players.
CFC continued to play a man down in the second half, but new fan favorite, Charlie Clarke started up top at forward. The second half began slow, but both teams continued to play aggressively while looking for a goal to get ahead.
There were back to back attempts at goal in the 58th minute of play. A foul on Clarke created a quick counter attack at goal, but CFC still was unable to find the back of the net after a quick cross into the box.
Everson Lima took control of the CFC defense in the second half, proving to be a true leader, even as a recent addition to the team. Lima continued to be a threat all over the back half of the field as well as got a shot on goal.
Jose “Zeca” Ferraz received a yellow in 68th minute but turned around and assisted Clarke in the first goal of the match in the 72nd minute. Asheville wasted no time to react and put one in the net during the 76th minute of play, tying the game again at 1-1.
Both teams worked hard to finish the match and a tie was the end result.
CFC head coach Bill Elliott said, “We held our own. We worked with the unfortunate circumstances of playing a man down for the majority of the match and made the most of it. I think we had trouble finishing our attempts at goal and should have seen a few more in the back of the net. We will take that and learn for the quick turnaround of Saturday’s game against New Orleans.”
General manager, Sean McDaniel said, “We had some opportunities that we missed and had the circumstances been different, I think we should finish those. For Saturday, we need to focus on keeping the defense organized like they were tonight and we need to start finishing our opportunities on goal. The crowd was behind the CFC boys all night and we will need that same kind of support from fans come Saturday night against Jesters.”