By Alex McLoughlin/Asheville City SC
Asheville City SC played its most complete match of the season en route to a 3-1 road victory over Atlanta SC on Saturday.
The Blues headed down to St Francis High School in muggy Alpharetta, Georgia.
The match began with a spell of shared possession and no real chances on goal. In the fifth minute, Pedro Benito hijacked an Atlanta pass and then threaded a lovely waited pass through to Tobias Karlsen, but he wasn’t quite ready for Benito’s ball.
Asheville City continued sending balls forward but no one in a blue shirt was there to reach them. That was until the 21st minute when Lukas Joyner forced the first Blues’ corner of the match. That was the last moment of calm for a while.
On the ensuing corner, Ebrima Njie earned a red card and conceded a penalty. Asheville City now had a one-man advantage for the remainder of the match. Eventually in the 28th minute, midfielder Chris Allan sent the penalty whistling into the top right corner for a 1-0 lead.
Rather than panic, Atlanta began to string solid attacks together. The first ended with a dangerous cross into the box that goalkeeper Pijus Petkevicius dealt with in the 29th minute. Atlanta attacker Sheriff Suma had two straight chances in the 32nd minute. The latter attack saw Suma send a header just wide.
Asheville City looked to be getting its groove back toward the end of the half. Joyner rifled a shot at the keeper in the 40th and Kyle McCurley did the same in the 43rd. However, Atlanta had one last chance to equalize before the half. In added time, Atlanta forward Prince Saydee made a nifty move in the box before whipping a ball across to Thierry Jules.
Jules tried to tap it in but Petkevicius wasn’t having it as he saved the initial shot and the rebound. The Blues took their 1-0 lead into the half.
Asheville City started the second half with three quick scoring chances but weren’t able to beat Atlanta keeper Thomas DeBladis. Atlanta made them pay moments later when Petkevicius cleared a ball straight to Frantz-Rooby Dalusma, who curled in Atlanta’s equalizer in the 55th minute. It was suddenly a new game, and Atlanta had all the momentum.
Unfazed, the Blues went back on the offensive. In the 61st minute Ross Fitzpatrick weaved his way through a maze of orange shirts and sent a slow shot that didn’t trouble DeBladis. Fitzpatrick got another chance two minutes later, and this time he was ready. Fitzpatrick took his time at the edge of the box and chipped the ball to perfection over the keeper and into the top left corner after a perfect one-touch pass from Frank Rosenwald.
With the second Asheville City goal, Atlanta began to look like a team playing with only 10 men. The Blues meanwhile, sat on the ball and created chances as they searched eagerly for the dagger. That dagger came in the 84th minute when Rosenwald slammed a header off of the post before slotting the rebound past DeBladis.
The final whistle blew about 10 minutes later with a well-earned 3-1 scoreline in favor of Asheville City. The Blues get a week of recovery before hosting the Georgia Revolution at Memorial Stadium on the 25th.
Photo Credit: Bree Hicken/Philip McIntyre