With a hard-fought 2-1 win over Grand Rapids FC, FC Columbus secured three points and maintained control of their destiny to secure the second playoff spot in the Great Lakes Conference of the NPSL.
Newcomer Kainoa Bailey put FC Columbus ahead 1-0 13 minutes into the game. After winning the ball back quickly in the midfield, Jonatan “Corro” Alvarez found Bailey with a perfect ball over the defense. Using his speed, Bailey reached the ball first, striking a volley off the bounce past GRFC’s Noah Fazekas.
Despite having the lead, FC Columbus had to adjust early as Ezra Armstrong was shown a red card in the 16th minute of the first half. After dispossessing GRFC’s Anthony Bowie, Armstrong was brought down from behind. Following the foul, an altercation ensued resulting in a straight red card and ejection for Armstrong.
Despite playing down 10 men, FC Columbus continued to look dangerous while adjusting their formation to play with the lead. On several occasions, Michael Chilton was able to break the GRFC line with his speed forcing Fazekas to remain alert for the entire half.
Playing with an extra man, GRFC was able to get in some decent crosses near the end of the half, forcing clearances from both Waldimir Babew and Kangni Gabianou.
David Abonce, making his 2nd start of the season was called into action several times in the second half answering the bell each time to keep the visiting side scoreless.
Managing the lead well, FC Columbus absorbed the pressure from GRFC for the first 25 minutes of the second half. Following a spell of sustained possession, the ball popped out to left back Mamadou Diallo unleashed a 25-yard rocket past Fazekas to put the home side ahead 2-0 in the 70th minute.
Despite the 2-0 deficit in hot conditions, GRFC continued to search for their first goal of the match. Their efforts were rewarded in the 73rd minute when Scott Doney headed home a Matt Whelan cross.
With the victory, FC Columbus moves into third place in the conference. Trailing second place GRFC by seven points with three games in hand.
FC Columbus returns to action Friday, June 24th against AFC Ann Arbor in Ann Arbor, Michigan at 7:00 pm. Tickets are still available for the match both online and at the gate.
Contributor: By FC Columbus
Photo Credit: Chris Heidel/social614.com