By Port City FC
Supporters witnessed a goal frenzy at the Milner Stadium on Thursday night as Port City FC and Jacksonville Armada FC U-23 went toe-to-toe.
The clock had only been rolling for a matter of seconds before the first goal was scored. Armada’s Javoney Brown was sent through on goal with a chipped ball over the defense and some confusion at the back between Port City’s Andrew Elkins and shot-stopper Grant Adam allowed Brown to bundle his way through and tap in the goal after just over 20 seconds.
Their lead didn’t last long though. City pressed well after the goal and had a chance to go in front a few minutes later when Tom Toulson won the ball in midfield and threaded a beautiful ball down the line for Caleb Counselman.
Counselman lashed a ball across the face of goal where Ethan Loftin tried to steer it goalward, but his touch was too light and the ball drifted past an open net.
However, Port City got their reward in the 14th minute, as a long throw-in caused trouble in the box and was bundled around before finding CJ Smith around four yards out, who was able to poke the goal into the roof of the net.
The Sounders took the lead moments later in the 20th minute as another long throw-in wasn’t effectively cleared and landed at Reece Harrion’s feet. Harrison took his time to send a dangerous ball to the far post, where Loftin raced through and got the vital touch to take the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net.
The remainder of the second half saw few major chances. The best remaining chance of the second half came for Armada’s Coimbra as Luis Quintero lost the ball in the Sounders half which let Coimbra drive towards Port City’s goal. He dribbled inside the edge of the box, cut inside, and hit a low shot towards the far post. Adam was beaten as the ball deflected off the post and bounced straight into his arms.
As spectators were tucking into their halftime snacks, courtesy of Pop Brothers Popsicles and Creole Soul Catering, the game started just as it left off and tension started to build as Port City aimed to get their first three points of the campaign against a Jacksonville Armada side that had won every game so far.
Both teams traded blows, but Armada had the better of the chances in the early exchanges of the second half and they found their equalizer in the 64th minute. Jacksonville floated a long throw-in into the middle of the Port City penalty area, and Eddie Howe met the ball with a powerful header to send the ball past Adam.
It was clear that neither team wanted to settle for a point, as both teams battled to find another goal to take the lead. Port City found that goal on the 78th minute, arguably the goal of the night, as Tom Toulson fired a low ball to target man Guilherme Bittencourt, who took a touch around his defender and sent CJ Smith racing down the line towards the corner of the penalty area. The tricky winger juked the remaining defender and cut inside before powering a shot past Armada keeper Dominic Dominguez, giving City the lead once again.
Given the nature of the game, it felt like there was another goal to come for either side, as both teams had moments of looking dangerous. That goal came for Armada as they turned up the pressure and put Cal Chavez down the wing as he cut the ball back to Reed Davis, who made a smart first time finish to the far bottom corner.
Just as Armada took the lead in the first minute, they retook the lead in the last, as in the 87th minute the deciding goal came to Davis as another long throw-in caused the Sounders issues and he was able to head the ball in at the far post, leaving Adam stranded.
Three minutes of stoppage time passed as Port City pushed forward to try and save a point, but Armada held on to keep them 4-0 and the hosts 0-4.
All eyes turn to Saturday for Port City, as they go back to Milner Stadium to take on AFC Mobile in what could be a season-defining game against their neighbors, who have had a mixed season so far with a 2-2-1 season.
Photo Credit: Louis Llerandi