Chattanooga FC picked up three crucial points on the road in a 2-1 victory over Albion San Diego. The boys in blue displayed incredible character to fight back from behind with goals from Markus Naglestad and Alex McGrath overturning a halftime deficit.
Chattanooga entered the match in desperate need of three points, especially with the competitor of the night, Albion San Diego, able to hop above them in the table with a win. Just a few days earlier CFC won a point off of league leaders California United Strikers and the boys in blue were hungry for more.
Head coach Rod Underwood unveiled the same lineup that earned a point on Sunday, trusting his players to put in another massive shift.
The first half did not go as planned for Chattanooga. The visitors looked to possess, but some errant passes gave Albion several chances for dangerous counter attacks. One chance came in the 14th minute, when a lofted ball found Walter Varela at the back post to volley in for the home side, putting them up 1-0 over Chattanooga.
The rest of the first half didn’t look much better. Chattanooga failed to test the Albion keeper, while several players picked up yellows for physical play. It looked grim as the visitors entered the half 1-0 down.
Some strong words must have been spoken at halftime, because the boys in blue, bolstered by substitute Brett Jones, came out swinging in the second half.
A short corner routine in the 47th minute saw Naglestad taken down in the box to earn a penalty. The Norwegian didn’t have to fool the keeper as his calm, well placed shot from the spot had no problem beating the diving Albion shot stopper to bring the game level at 1-1.
Drawing level wasn’t enough for the boys in blue as they pushed for another goal. That goal came in the 58th minute as man of the match Alex McGrath headed in a cross from Tate Robertson to put Chattanooga up 2-1.
The game quickly devolved into a highly physical battle, with some players going too far on and off the ball. While the ref let many things slide, he rightfully handed out a red card to Albion player Khadim Seye after a late challenge earned him his second yellow in the 65th minute.
The way the game played out, it was almost a wonder that there was only one red. Neither team looked much like scoring, but both sets of players turned up the physicality, not shying away from a sly shove or a team scuffle. With the man advantage, a disciplined block from Chattanooga was able to comfortably see out the game, eventually winning 2-1.
Alex McGrath was voted player of the match as he scored the winning goal, amidst his physical display in the midfield. The whole team deserves honors for fighting such a tough match and coming out on top just three days after going toe to toe with the league leaders.
With four points from an available six in California against two direct competitors, Chattanooga took an important step towards a first-round bye in the NISA playoffs. However, there is still much work to be done. That work continues this Saturday, September 10th as Chattanooga hosts the LA Force at Finley Stadium.
About Chattanooga Football Club
Chattanooga Football Club was founded in 2009. The men's team competes in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), which is in the third division of professional soccer. Chattanooga Football Club became the first soccer club to offer true ownership to the fans in 2019 with 3,200+ investors from Chattanooga, all 50 states, and 31 countries. CFC plays all home games in Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.