By FC Columbus
On a picturesque night at Ohio Dominican University’s Panther Stadium, FC Columbus began the 2019 Great Lakes Conference season at home against reigning conference champions AFC Ann Arbor. A night of excitement and anticipation quickly turned sour, as the visiting side established an early two-goal lead within the first quarter hour. Despite a wonderful free kick in the 27th minute that drew the home side within one goal, the home side couldn’t overcome a strong performance from the Mighty Oak, falling 3-1 in their home opener.
From the onset, the visiting side took control of the midfield and the match with a sense of urgency that resulted in a few chances that challenged the spine and organization of the home side. That sustained pressure paid off early for AFC Ann Arbor when Jack Hallahan got loose on the right side and unleashed a rocket that beat the left hand of a diving David Abonce in the 11th minute.
FC Columbus struggled to respond and find consistency on the ball as an open flow to the game was continually disrupted by called fouls and unforced errors. Those unforced errors caught up with the home side when Demarco Andrews misplayed a back pass to Abonce that rolled across the endline for an Ann Arbor corner. In the 23rd minute, a well-placed corner forced a misplaced clearance to the top box where AFCAA’s Sebastian Chalbaud hit a first-time volley to the bottom left corner.
Down two goals within the first quarter of an hour, the home side finally found a bit of urgency that earned them a free kick on the edge of the box in their offensive third of the field. Standing over the ball in the 27th minute, FC Columbus’ Coro Alvarez stepped up and stuck the ball into the top left corner past a diving Ian McGrane. FC Columbus continued to push towards an equalizer and found themselves in a good position, only to see starting forward Damani Camara push a shot over the bar near the end of the half.
Early in the second half, FCCLB’s Coro Alvarez was sent off following his second yellow card of the match in the 50th minute. The rough spell continued minutes later as starting forward Damani Camara was forced off due to injury. Despite being down to 10 men, FC Columbus showed incredible resolve as they carried the game while pushing for the equalizer. New signing David Abonce, who hails from the Ohio State University, kept the deficit at one with a great point-blank save in the 62nd minute, denying Jake Rufe.
The toll of playing a man down was eventually too much to over come for the home side however, as a deflected shot inside the box fell to a wide-open Yazeed Matthews, who converted the chance with ease. Matthews goal put the visiting side ahead 3-1 in the 76th minute, securing three more tough away points for AFC Ann Arbor.
FC Columbus, with the loss, moves to 0-2-1 on the season and 0-0-1 in the Great Lakes Conference. FC Columbus is back in action Sunday, traveling Northern Kentucky University to face Cincinnati Dutch Lions in its final friendly of the season. The match begins at 7:00 pm. Tickets will be available at the gate.
Photos Courtesy of FC Columbus