It was a battle near the top of the Lone Star Conference standings on a sticky night in Fort Worth at historic Farrington Field. Third place Midland-Odessa Sockers FC paid a visit to first place Fort Worth Vaqueros FC with both clubs having an eye on the top of the table. The Vaqueros started the game well, running out to a 3-0 lead by the 30th minute. But the Sockers made their own second-half two-goal change, coming up just a bit short of the epic comeback.
Bobby Edet opened the scoring for the Fort Worth side with a ninth-minute goal. But it was Jamie Lovegrove who notched a first-half brace in a Man of the Match performance to give his team the 3-0 lead by the time the game was a third over.
Lovegrove’s first goal came in the 21st minute on an over the top long ball. With the ball dropping behind the defense, Lovegrove beat his man and struck a half-volley over the keeper. Lovegrove then completed the brace on a penalty kick in the 26th minute after Zach Addler was brought down from behind in the box.
“A great performance,” said Vaqueros head coach Nicholas Stavrou of his team. “Obviously we came out strong in the first half, which was an upgrade from the week before, and obviously got the lead. It got a little bit too close in the second half as they poured on some pressure, but an outstanding performance from the guys.”
As Stavrou said, Midland-Odessa wasn’t to be counted out. As the first half wound down the Sockers started to press forward with passes into playmaker Jhonatan Velasquez in dangerous positions between the Vaqueros midfield and center backs. The Sockers also found striker Maxi Galizzi for a few chances on goal. But neither player was able to find the net despite strong possession play.
Midland-Odessa continued to put on the pressure in the second half and in the 50th minute they finally broke through. After a scramble in the box, a loose ball out top was shot hopefully on net by Camilo Galindo. The low shot was muffed by Vaqueros keeper Marko Jovanovic, putting the Sockers on the board and cutting the lead to two.
As the West Texas club continued to press, the corners and crosses kept coming. In the 83rd minute, Fernando Gutierrez finally rose above the defense and headed home a cross bringing the score within one.
But in the end, the Sockers just couldn’t get the final goal to complete the comeback. The Vaqueros made some defensive subs and were able to run out the game with some timely late game possession.
“We showed how good we can be at times,” Vaqueros goal hero Lovegrove said after the game. “And we showed after the first half into the start of the second half how good we can be defensively. A couple of mistakes on our part but we learn from that and we go again next week for another big game.”
Both clubs are in NPSL action again this week. Fort Worth travels to Conroe, Texas, to take on Dutch Lions FC next Saturday; while Midland-Odessa hosts Laredo Heat SC on Thursday and Tyler FC on Saturday.
Contributor: Buzz Carrick/NPSL.com
Photo Credit: Buzz Carrick/NPSL.com and Fort Worth Vaqueros FC