By Ivor Castle/Southern States SC
Port City FC Sounders edged past a spirited Southern States SC Stars 2-1 at the Oakes in
Hattiesburg Friday evening. The visitors from Gulfport completed the double over their in-state
rivals having won the reverse fixture back in September.
For the Stars who have followed a promising start with three successive losses it was a
performance that matched the Sounders in all, but goals scored, the one vital stat.
The game started with the Stars pushing forward brightly enough and Port City defending
solidly. The Stars suffered a fourth-minute setback when overage player and holding midfielder
Cruz Rangel was injured and had to leave the field to be replaced by Ethan Boles.
The closest either team came to an early scoring opportunity was Elean Fajardo’s cross field ball,
deep into the City penalty area, but Michael Colburn was unable to corral the ball in before it
crossed the goal line.
As both teams tried to find a way through the game ebbed and flowed with the Stars taking more
of the possession but the Sounders showing a little more quality in the final third.
Colburn and Romar Smith were causing problems and Smith went close a couple of times.
Port City had their half chances too and both sides exchanged corner kicks and free kicks before
Daminick White was adjudged to have handled Kieran Robbins’ shot on the edge of the Stars
penalty area. Robbins placed the ball on the spot and sent the visiting team into a 1-0 lead on 32
The Stars went in search of a quick response, but the Sounders held their lead until the half-time
The second period started with the Stars on top and the visitors penned back into their own half.
Romar Smith streaked onto a pass behind the Sounders defense but goalkeeper Thomas Wise
was alert and rushed out to block the effort.
Southern States were looking as if the equalizer might be coming as they won corner kicks and
free kicks and Fajardo wasted a chance by hesitating before shooting.
However, with Port City’s first real attack of the half, Baronyi Kengeye got free on the top of the
box to hit a shot that Stars keeper Diego Gutierrez got a hand to but could not keep out as it
found its way under the crossbar.
2-0 was a harsh reality and the Stars were shaken for a while as Fajardo also picked up a yellow
card. Despite this they found their way back into the game and Colburn had a chance before
Smith hit the crossbar from a free kick.
The Stars continued to have more of the possession without turning it into clear chances against a
stingy Sounders defense. At the other end Gutierrez deflected a strongly hit long shot behind
and out of danger as the Sounders issued another warning of their goalscoring potential.
Finally, the break Southern States had been waiting for arrived. Fajardo worked his way into the
City penalty area off the dribble and was tripped by a defender. The referee had no hesitation in
awarding the penalty kick. Fajardo picked himself up to drive the ball under the diving Wise in
the Sounders goal, bringing the score to 2-1.
The Stars were back in the game with 19 minutes plus added time to go.
As time was counting down Bennett Gibson started to have a greater influence in the midfield,
winning tackles and driving his team forward. For the visitors their defense still held firm as
both teams again started to exchange fouls and free kicks.
The Stars needed to sustain their attacks as Port City cleared and used up valuable time holding
the ball in the Stars half. Clint Ryals replaced Casey Heustess and immediately got a shot off
that was saved. Smith mishit a half chance under pressure from a defender and with another
substitution, Erasmo Herrera replaced Noah Roblin for the Stars.
In the dying minutes of the game White ended his night after being shown a red card and that
was it for the Stars who could not find the vital second goal.
The Stars drop to 2-1-3 on the back of a three-game losing skid. Port City head the pilot on a 4-
0-1 record. Southern States SC hosts AFC Mobile next Friday, October 23 rd at 7.00 pm. Port
City are at Pensacola FC on Tuesday, October 20 th at 7:00 pm.
Photo Credit: Sophie Bell/3Smedia