By Alex McLoughlin/Asheville City SC
Asheville City SC started its first winning streak of the season with a 2-0 victory over Georgia Revolution FC.
Fresh off of a convincing 3-1 win over Atlanta SC, the Blues were looking to gain another three points. With a win, Asheville City would have a strong chance of vaulting to the top of the conference standings.
As is typical for Asheville City, the match started quietly with both sides trading possession. This was the first meeting between the clubs this season and it was obvious they were feeling each other out early on. Asheville City got its first chance of the night 10 minutes in when Tobias Karlsen tried to chip Georgia keeper Matija Gligorovic. The Montenegrin goalie was able to get just enough of the ball to keep it from finding the back of the net.
The visitors made their way down the wing in the 14th minute before Marcos Enriquez was able to clear the ball to safety. That clearance became an Asheville City counter attack as Ross Fitzpatrick played Karlsen in beautifully. Unfortunately for the Blues, the Norwegian’s shot was sent rolling just wide of the post.
Asheville City dominated possession throughout the first half, picking and choosing the right opportunities. It took 29 minutes for the Revolution to register a shot on goal. In the absence of captain and defensive anchor Jamie Smith, the backline performed admirably. But it wasn’t just the defenders playing great defense. In the 31st minute, midfielder Pedro Benito made a textbook tackle that knocked the ball over to fellow midfielder Chris Allan. Allan took a few steps forward before lasering a left-footed shot into the top left corner for a 1-0 lead.
The Blues got the goal they were looking for and were determined to keep Georgia from doing the same. It wouldn’t be easy, as the Revolution was able to string solid attacks together, gaining confidence with each touch. The visitors got their best chance of the half in the 41st minute when a ball fell kindly to Jamar Oakley, who forced a diving punch from keeper Pijus Petkevicius. The sprawling save was a taste of what was to come in the second half.
When the second half kicked off with the same 1-0 score, it didn’t look like the same Revolution. Georgia went on the offensive, forcing another big save from Petkevicius in the 47th minute. The visitors began to hold the ball longer as Asheville City’s press became less effective. Despite the possession, Georgia didn’t get another good chance until the 58th minute when Petkevicius tried to clear a ball to safety, not realizing the Revolution attacker near him. The shot deflected toward the net, but the Lithuanian was able to reach it before it crossed the line.
Asheville City had been playing back on its heels for much of the second half. That was until Nathan Watt lofted a gorgeous through ball into Karlsen. Gligorovic saved Karlsen’s first effort before somehow saving Karlsen’s header on the rebound to force a corner. Though there was no goal, the Blues had possession and confidence on their side. Asheville City strung attacks together before Allan earned the Blues a corner in the 75th minute. Dylan Burke whipped the ensuing corner into the box that Frank Rosenwald emphatically headed home for a 2-0 lead.
The second goal gave the Blues a cushion that felt insurmountable. The Revolution didn’t feel that way however, as they put some solid runs of play together. Their last good chance of the match came in the 87th minute when Pascal Mohungsi was 1-on-1 with Petkevicius. But as he had done all match, Petkevicius found a way to keep Georgia out of the score column.
The match ended minutes later with Asheville City’s second consecutive victory and first clean sheet. The Blues will get another week of rest before heading to Tennessee to face Inter Nashville FC on June 1st.
Photo Credit: Isaac Bullman