AFC Cleveland’s winning streak came to an end Sunday as the Royals were bested by a late-winner from the Erie Commodores.
In what was the first goal conceded in five matches for the club, the Royals fell 1-0 after earning a wealth of chances throughout the match. The missed opportunities finally came back to bite the Royals when the Commodores made their way forward to earn a corner kick in the 82nd. The AFC Cleveland defense dealt with the initial corner, but a shot from outside the box took a couple tricky deflection and was turned in the top left corner by Ashley Phillips.
The other major development was a red card shown to Coletun Long for multiple instances of dissent. The first yellow shown to the Royals center back came just minutes before the goal when the Commodores were awarded a corner kick. After the Commodores scored off a second attempt from the corner flag, Long was booked again and will now be suspended for AFC Cleveland's must-win last match against FC Buffalo.
First Half Highlights
Commodores forward Malcolm Scott was active to start the match, and let an opportunity in the seventh go to waste when Long misjudged an over-the-top ball, leading to a breakaway run for Scott. Long had just enough time to recover and deny Scott’s shot.
The Commodores made their way into the Royals goal area again in the 17th minute, this time getting a shot off from Ezana Kahsay. The attempt was blocked by Alex Ivanov.
The Royals’ first good opportunity of the match came while building from the back. A drop pass to Ivanov was sent forward and flicked on by David Jordan into the path of Vinny Bell, who put a driven shot on frame, but Commodores keeper Jorge Alvarez stood tall for the save.
In the 27th, Bell had another opportunity go just wide of the goal after connecting with a cross from Yianni Sarris, who made a great individual run down the right flank.
Moments later, Jordan tried to chip the keeper from the left corner of the penalty area. The attempt was well taken, but didn’t drop enough to fall into the far side of the net.
Chris Cvecko blasted a shot inches wide of target in the 29th following a corner kick opportunity for the Royals. Cvecko was waiting at the top of the box to clean up the scraps from the set piece, and nearly put AFC Cleveland ahead.
Cvecko and Tom Beck combined down the right side create a lane for Beck to make a run in the box. Beck decided to switch the ball to Jordan, who blasted a shot from close-range well above the crossbar.
It was Bell’s turn to service his teammates in the final moments of the first half. Bell won the ball along the right side that unlocked the Commodores defense to give Jordan a chance near the penalty area. Jordan was unable to gain control before Alvarez stepped up to corral the ball.
Second Half Highlights
AFC Cleveland put heavy pressure on the Commodores out of the gates in the second half. Jordan made a fantastic run along the left wing after Larson intercepted an Erie cross with a header. Jordan looked up to find Cvecko open on the right wing and delivered a perfect cross. Cvecko’s shot was well contested by the recovering Commodores defense and ended up in the hands of Alvarez.
A defensive win in the midfield nearly led to a goal for AFC Cleveland in the 56th. Sarris broke up Erie’s possession and set up a counter attack led by Bell, who looked to Beck making a run towards goal. Beck looked opposite-field to Jordan, but the square pass was cut out by Alvarez.
Erie’s Scott almost put in a hopeful shot in the 56th from distance. Scott was left alone over 20 yards from goal and tried to catch Ivanov off his line. The attempt was well-struck, but was lifted just above the crossbar.
A chance on goal for AFC Cleveland was wasted in the 74th. Beck gained possession and advanced the ball to Bell, who was found alone on the left side. Jordan’s shot hit the left side-netting.
The Commodores went ahead in the 82nd minute following a corner kick opportunity that was directed into the top left corner of the goal. Phillips would get the last touch, but the ball took multiple deflections en route to the back of the net following a shot from outside the box after the corner kick.
Photo Credit: T.J. Powell