By FC Columbus
In a tale of two halves, FC Columbus continued to craft its identify against NPSL newcomer Toledo Villa FC. On short rest, following a 3-0 victory over Grand Rapids FC on Memorial Day, FCCLB looked to demonstrate some depth featuring 10 new faces in the starting XI. Early on, the decision looked to be questionable as the home side found itself down early in the match. Despite a good showing from the visiting side, head coach Mazi Chete made two changes during the intermission that sparked a second-half comeback, securing three points for Columbus.
Returning to Roberts Field for the first time since their 1-1 draw against fellow NPSL side Cleveland SC, FC Columbus welcomed Toledo Villa FC into the league on a humid summer evening in Columbus, Ohio. It was the visiting side that took to the match early, looking to both score their first goal of the season and take their first lead. With high pressure from their forwards, Toledo Villa FC forced the home side to build out of the back.
FC Columbus would notch the first full chance of the match in the 12th minute as Otterbein University’s Pau Piang narrowly missed with a long-distance effort that had Villa’s Eric Cotton beat. The chance came during a period of good control from the home side as they looked to stake their claim to the match.
In the 18th minute of play, using a strong counter following a FCCLB offensive turn over, Toledo Villa FC swung in a cross that found the arm of FCCLB’s Alpha Barry in the middle of the box. With the penalty, Toledo Villa FC’s Guilherme Albuquerque gave the visiting side their first goal and lead of the season in the 20th minute.
Leading 1-0, the visiting side found a bit of swagger and dictated play for the next 10 minutes of play forcing FCCLB goalkeeper Bryant Pratt (Indiana University) into a fantastic diving save in the 27th minute. The save seemed to spark life into the home side as Piang again came close for the home side in the 40th minute, narrowly missing from inside the six-yard box.
With the home side trailing 1-0 at the half, Chete made two changes following the intermission. Chete’s addition of FCCLB’s Damani Camara and Jalim Bayo changed the course of the game, as their athleticism and skill proved too much for Toledo Villa FC. In the 47th minute, the halftime changes finally paid off, as a turnover created by Bayo resulted in a swung-in ball that Camara easily converted for his fourth goal of the season.
The momentum shift was clearly evident, as Cotton did well to keep the visiting side level early in the second half, denying both Camara and Bayo with equally impressive sprawling saves. However, it was clear that Toledo Villa FC would have to wait another day for their first point of the season after Camara headed home a well-executed corner that fell to him on the back post in the 63rd minute.
Piang was finally rewarded for his solid play through out the match as he earned his first assist of the season. Flashing his technical abilities, Piang beat his man and sent in a well-driven cross that found Bayo at the top of the six-yard box where he was able to easily beat Cotton in the 70th minute. The third goal of the match put the home side ahead 3-1 for good and capped a 33-minute spell that demonstrated how dangerous the side can be in the final third.
With the win and six points from the available nine, FCCLB moved to 2-2-2 and 2-0-1 in the Great Lakes Conference. Following a quick turnaround, FC Columbus packs its bags for the first time this season, traveling North to face Detroit City FC on Sunday, June 2nd at Keyworth Stadium. The match begins at 5:00 pm and will be available on MyCujoo.tv.
Photo Credit: Justin Anderson