Preceded by rain showers and a dreary atmosphere, Asheville City SC opened their 2018 NPSL season at home against Georgia Revolution FC. In contrast to the weather prior to kick-off, the evening’s match was full of life and action, which was not accurately represented by the 1-1 scoreline at the final whistle.
The visitors kicked off the first half, but a stray forward pass set Asheville City SC on a quick attacking movement which came to an abrupt end when left winger Elliot Cutts was flagged offside. The following several minutes saw both sides look to establish a rhythm, and the first corner of the night was awarded to the Blues after a promising run from Manny Perez on the right wing was knocked behind by a sliding challenge, and the following attempt was cleared away by the Revolution.
Mac Gourlay, a rising sophomore from NC State University and an Asheville, NC native, did well to intercept the ball inside his own box in the ninth minute before launching a counter-attack for the home side. The ball was quickly worked into the Revolution half where midfielder Kristian Moore-Cowell found space and forced a save from the opposition goalkeeper from outside the box – a promising sign for the Blues. The resulting corner was dealt with once again.
Georgia Revolution FC saw most of the ball over the next few minutes, but were not able to convert their possession into a shot on goal until the 18th minute. A Revolution forward found space centrally and placed a shot right into Parker Sigfried’s arms, who had come off his line to close down the opportunity.
The next chance of the match fell to the Blues in the 22nd minute as Manny Perez once again broke down the right wing and beat his defender before driving a low cross towards the back post, just inches ahead of the onrushing Elma N’For, and it was sent behind by an opposition defender for what appeared to be another corner, but the referee awarded the ball to the Revolution as N’For’s run was offside.
Just moments later, in the 24th minute, Manny Perez found himself unmarked and received the ball from Moore-Cowell on a run into the box before firing a low shot that narrowly missed the far post and goes out for a Revolution goal kick. The ensuing attack from the opponent forced another save out of Siegfried who kept it goalless, and the Blues did well to regain possession and attack quickly, which concluded with a save at the other end from a Tom Deeley shot, who had received a nice cutback pass from Nathan Watt.
The final fifteen minutes of the first half were rather uneventful, aside from a few half-chances, as both teams looked to develop a rhythm. After one minute of added time, the referee blew the whistle as the first half ended scoreless.
Asheville City SC resumed play after subbing Hannes Burmeister on for Elliot Cutts at the half – forcing Tom Deeley into the wide role – and the next chance fell for the Revolution but the attempt was parried out for a corner by Siegfried. Moments later, in the 49th minute, the Blues attacked down the left wing and Elma N’For was unable to direct the cross on-target from his head. A minute later, the halftime substitute, Burmeister, was able to get a shot away, but his effort is lackluster due to solid defensive work from the Revolution and their goalkeeper is able to easily collect.
Finally, in the 54th minute, the deadlock was broken after N’For was taken down inside the box after beating his defender to the ball and awarded a penalty by the referee. N’For took it himself and placed a superb shot just inside the bottom right corner and into the net despite the Revolution goalkeeper guessing correctly. Asheville City SC took the 1-0 lead over Georgia Revolution FC.
In what appeared to be a boost following the goal, the Blues kept up the pressure but were unable to turn their quick passing play into another clear-cut opportunity before the Revolution forced a low save out of Sigfried in the 60th minute.
A corner was awarded to the Blues in the 64th minute and several players rise to meet it, and the ball is deflected towards the goal but is cleared off the line by a Revolution defender. Play was stopped shortly after as the opposition goalkeeper received medical treatment on the sideline.
The Blues made their second substitution in the 73rd minute as Frank Rosenwald came on for captain Tom Deeley.
An equalizer comes in the 80th minute after a Revolution forward utilized his dribbling skills inside the box to get past the defending center backs before slotting a shot past Sigfried. Asheville City SC was now tied 1-1 Georgia Revolution FC.
The Blues’ final substitution came in the 81st minute when Brady Blackwell took the place of Kristian Moore-Cowell in a like-for-like change.
Closing out the last clear opportunity of the night was an effort from N’For in the 84th minute who looked to meet a driven cross from the right wing inside the six-yard box, but his marker was able to just beat him to the ball and put it behind for a corner.
After four minutes of added time, the referee blew the final whistle as the match ended level. The Blues opened their 2018 NSPL campaign with a point against an impressive Georgia Revolution FC side that opened their own season with a 3-1 win over league-entrants Greenville FC. The result may not have been the ideal for either side heading into the evening, but the intensely fought match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Contributor: Asheville City SC
Photo Credit: Asheville City SC