Knoxville, TN. - Chattanooga Football Club lost its final NPSL Southeast Conference match tonight to Knoxville Force, 2-1. The combination of a Chattanooga loss and a Jacksonville United win eliminated the club from NPSL post season play.
“It’s just a heart breaker,” said GM Sean McDaniel. “We were right where we needed to be and controlled our own destiny, we just couldn’t make it happen tonight.”
The game got off to another slow start with Chattanooga FC allowing an early goal in just the 6th minute of play. Immediately following a Chattanooga attack, Knoxville countered quickly down the left flank and played a perfect ball to the middle for an easy goal from six yards out.
Chattanooga FC took control of the game after the first goal and set a high pace of play for the rest of the night. The match was hotly contested as several yellow cards were handed out to both teams.
Chattanooga was denied time and again by Knoxville’s keeper, Wezly Barnard, who began the season with Chattanooga. Finally, in the 2nd minute of stoppage time in the first half, forward Chris Ochieng was fouled in the box and awarded a penalty kick. Barnard guessed the side correctly, buy Ochieng hit it hard into the upper corner for the tying goal heading into the half.
The physical play continued throughout the second half while the score line remained tied. Chattanooga, understanding the necessity of a win to move on to the playoffs, began substituting attacking players into the game. The visiting side continued to put Knoxville under extreme pressure, but just couldn’t find the back of the net.
In the 88th minute, Knoxville broke the stalemate. Chattanooga keeper Thomas Hunter came out of the goal to clear a long cross, only to be beaten by a Knoxville forward. The ball was flicked just over Hunter’s head into the goal for the game winner.
The loss eliminates Chattanooga FC (5-3-2) from NPSL play. The club has one final game for the 2011 season against DC United U23 on Saturday at Finley Stadium. Tickets are $5 for kids 6-12 and $10 for 13 and older.