By 3S Media
Andre Deas returned from a two-game suspension to give Southern States SC a close-fought victory over the visiting Tallahassee SC Battle Lions.
The Stars have been struggling in front of goal recently with just one netted in their previous four games. However, that goal was the winner last time out against Florida Roots FC in Panama City Beach.
Tonight, the Stars matched that road win on Deas’ lone goal to put a poor run of three defeats firmly behind them. They will now hope these back-to-back wins will be the foundation into the rest of the season with an extended run that can threaten Jacksonville Armada FC U-23 in first place. The win cemented the Stars second place in the conference standings.
The Stars opened on top of the game but were unable to find the chances and finishing touch that would open the game up with a go-ahead goal. Tallahassee had moments of their own but without troubling Hector Grejeda in the home goal.
The Stars were without talisman Danny Reynolds who was sitting out following an accumulation of four yellow cards. Reynolds had been recently named in the NPSL National Team of the Month for May.
The Stars were also without the injured Josef Hefele and the readjustment took a while before the Stars got in sync but slowly, they began to dominate the half. Julian Avila was lively along with Deas who was relishing his return.
Despite their territorial advantage what few chances came the Stars way went begging and frustration grew as the half began winding down. Tallahassee kept the Stars at bay but finally as the half entered added time, some good work down the left from Deas and Connor Brazil ended with Brazil’s bending left-footed cross being sent home by Deas who had continued his run into the box. It was a deserved halftime lead from an exceptional passage of football.
The second half saw the Stars controlling possession with their deliberate buildup play, probing for openings with the visiting Battle Lions going the more direct route looking to catch the Stars backline on transition.
The second goal the Stars needed was not coming despite being on top. Tallahassee fought for every ball and free kicks were increasing in number as both sides competed. Tallahassee picked up a couple of yellow cards along the way, and Avila got one for retaliation.
A number of free kicks for both sides in dangerous positions came to nothing and the game was winding down to an anxious close for the Stars as Tallahassee looked to get a levelling goal.
In the final 15 minutes of the game the visitors pushed forward in numbers trying to free the speedy Levy Aquilas Nsimba and shake the Stars defense. But the Stars held firm. One of the strengths of the home team this season has been their stingy defense, having conceded only seven goals in their nine games to date.
A one-goal lead is always a tentative one and although the Stars should have had more, they almost lost that lead in the final minutes when Justin Laird smashed a shot against the foot of Grejeda’s right hand post and away to safety.
The Stars saw out the final seconds to take the points and complete the double over the Battle Lions. They remain second in the conference at 6-3 and Tallahassee drop to 1-4-3, one place off the bottom of the group and above the Florida Roots.
The Stars travel the short distance to play AFC Mobile on Wednesday at 7:00 pm. The Battle Lions travel to conference leaders Jacksonville Armada at the same day and time.
Deas was happy to be back in the lineup for the Stars.
“I’m feeling great,” Deas said. “Unfortunately, I had to sit out previously, and this was the game to come back. I wanted to be there for my teammates. They have been fighting hard this last week and I had to come back and fight hard as much as they did. We’re definitely back on track now. We talked about overcoming adversity, but now we know what the goal is, we know where we want to be and we are going to continue toward it.”
Stars head coach Carl Reynolds shared his thoughts on the performance and the matches ahead.
“Back on track, yes, but it would be nice to put a few more (goals) away and keep it from being so close toward the end of the game,” Carl Reynolds said. “The boys have bounced back after some disappointing results. Three games in six days is very, very difficult, so we’ll rest and recover and go again on Wednesday (at AFC Mobile). It will be a tough game and then against Port City next Saturday, so two important road games for us.”
Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson