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Chattanooga FC earn comeback win on the road in Detroit

By Jed Henderson, 07/29/23, 10:30PM EDT


Chattanooga's team remained unbeaten and picked up another three points on the road with a 2-1 win over Gold Star FC Detroit on Saturday night. Goals from Alex McGrath and Jesus Ibarra were just enough to seal the deal on a long night in Michigan.

The boys in blue entered the match in high spirits after winning the Independent Cup Southeast Championship the weekend prior. Spirits were already high before the cup triumph as Chattanooga FC surpassed the halfway point of the NISA season maintaining an unbeaten record. That unprecedented run began 13 matches earlier when the boys in blue opened the season with a 3-0 win over Gold Star at Finley Stadium.

Head coach Rod Underwood pulled no surprises with his team selection, fielding a strong eleven that was more than capable of continuing Chattanooga’s dominant league play.

The game had a frantic feel as fast-paced football saw many chances pop up on both sides of the field. 

Chattanooga had chances throughout the first half. It was a wonder that there wasn’t an early goal, as the Gold Star goal was peppered with chance after chance. Mutaya Mwape even hit the crossbar in the 20th minute, but the ball stayed out of the net.

Frustration compounded on the other end of the pitch as Moldovan centerback Anatolie Prepelita was adjudged to have pulled back an opponent in the box, conceding a penalty. Former CFC forward Roddy Green stepped up to convert the penalty, putting Gold Star up 1-0 in the 25th minute.

Chances continued to come and go for the boys in blue, but it was ultimately an oddly familiar source that put Chattanooga on the scoreboard in first half stoppage time. Alex McGrath, Spennymoor, England, struck what at first appeared to be a normal corner, but the inswinging ball looped over a crowded six-yard box and tucked inside the far post. This was McGrath’s third olympico for Chattanooga, and his second of the season. The two clubs entered the half all square at 1-1.

The tone of the game shifted in the 61st minute as Gold Star’s Derek Ramirez earned a second yellow and early trip to the locker room with a reckless high boot into the chest of Prepelita. 

From that point, it was one-way traffic. The boys in blue didn’t dally on the man advantage, constantly pressuring the Gold Star defense. 

Pressure turned to goal a few minutes later. Jesus Ibarra got on the end of Alex McGrath’s inswinging corner at the near post to nod Chattanooga into the lead. The boys in blue were up for the first time of the night, 2-1 in the 66th minute.

A serious injury to Gold Star’s Yaya Cisse in the 82nd minute served as a rallying cry for the home team, and 25 minutes of stoppage time proved to be a nervy ending for the visitors. Gold Star came as close as hitting the upright in the 113th minute, but ultimately Chattanooga FC held out for a 2-1 win.

Midfielder Alex McGrath was named Man of the Match.

"It's nice to get the three points to take back to Chattanooga," said McGrath. " Tough game against a decent team. They put up a good fight. I think all the lads sort of kept it together at the end. We could have scored a few more chances early which would have put the game to bed I think. But a decent three points on an away trip."

The three points are what matters as Chattanooga swept aside yet another opponent. With 34 points from 14 games, Chattanooga FC sits 10 points clear of second placed Albion San Diego.

"It's always good to get a result on the road," said CFC Head Coach Rod Underwood. "But we feel like we are moving into that part of the season where there will not be any easy games."

Next up on the schedule for Chattanooga FC is a home matchup against the Savannah Clovers on August 5th.

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About Chattanooga Football Club
Chattanooga Football Club was founded in 2009. The CFC Men's team competes in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), which is in the third division of professional soccer. The CFC Women's team is a summer amateur team that competes in the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL). 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.