By 3S Media
On a dry, warm evening at the Oakes in Hattiesburg, MS, the Southern States Stars U-19 team put on another powerful display. After the 4-0 home win over the New Orleans Jesters last Friday, this time it was Port City that fell by the same score line.
It was a bright evening at kickoff, and it was an even brighter start by the Stars who took the lead in the seventh minute as Ian Graham headed home from Attila Sepkin’s cross from the right.
The Gulfport, MS club were finding it hard to offer much of a threat going forward as the Stars defense stifled the visiting team, just as they had in the previous two games, keeping shutouts.
The Stars were giving a debut to Danny Reynolds, the brother of Stars head coach Carl Reynolds. From his defensive position he instigated many attacks with accurate and well-timed passes. Not only that but in the 21st minute he found himself in front of goal following a corner kick and smashed a loose ball home to put his team up by 2-0.
Port City tried to mount some offensive moves but with the Stars dominating the midfield and tight on the backline, their goalkeeper had little to do. It was only from corner kicks that the visitors showed any signs of danger, but the Stars were still able to cope well enough. The half ended with the Stars in control and dominating.
The one thing Port City needed was to score an early second-half goal to try and get themselves back into the game. But it was the Stars who delivered that punch with their third goal.
It was Reynolds again who paved the way with a surging run past two defenders and neatly setting Sepkin, centrally, on the top of the penalty box. Sepkin looked up, took aim, and fired low and accurately into the left corner of the goal for 3-0 in the 50th minute.
The game got a little chippy as Port City tried tenaciously to get going as an attacking force, but Ethan Crump in the Stars goal was untroubled throughout. As Port City tried to get more players forward, gaps were opening up in their backline and unless they could find the breakthrough they needed soon, it looked more likely the Stars would be the ones to score next.
And score they did. Evan Burrows played the ball from back to midfield where Sepkin and Liam Bennett combined, but just as the final pass seemed over-hit and as the danger receded, the Port City defenders left Bennett with a chance to score from close range for 4-0. Clint Ryals had the assist.
With 18 minutes to go Port City did show some enterprise and probably had their best attacking period of the match, yet still failed to work goalkeeper Crump except for one high corner kick that the youngster corralled at the second attempt.
The game ended with some strong tackles, a few fouls, and a couple of yellow cards for the visitors’ Guilherme Avila Terra and the Stars’ Danny Reynolds, a card the latter could add to his goal and assist in an eventful first game in the black uniform.
The Stars are now 6-1 while Port City are 1-2. The teams meet again Thursday, April 15th at 6:30 pm at the Gulfport Sportsplex.
Coach Carl Reynolds shared his thoughts on the performance of his team.
“We performed well in stages,” Reynolds said. “I thought the first ten or fifteen minutes we were really good, but we kind of dropped off, it was a game of stages for us. Obviously, complete control of the game which is what we want to have in every game. Some lovely goals and obviously now it’s trying to analyze what we’re doing well and what we’re not doing well, and we go again Thursday.”
The scorer of two Stars goals, Graham discussed the secret behind his team’s success to date.
“We work truly hard in practice, you know, I mean we just put in what we do in practice, came out strong, attacked the first five to ten minutes and set the tone, I think, and just played really hard throughout the game,” Graham said.
Port City coach Don Esterrhuizen was straight to the point.
“Obviously, we need to do some work on getting more organized,” Esterrhuizen said. “You have got to play for 90 minutes. It just shows at the end of the day, you lose concentration, not organized, focused, you don’t get results.”
Photo Credit: 3S Media