By Adam Bakr/NPSL.com
The Hank Steinbrecher Cup would end with a second-place finish for Denton Diablos FC, as they dropped Sunday’s final 2-1 to the Flint City Bucks at Atwood Stadium in Flint, Michigan.
Denton would start the game on the front foot. They opened with a series of chances, usually coming from the right wing. Brayan Padilla had the first chance to open the scoring off a cross from Brandon Cerda, but his header was saved by Issac Walker.
He had another chance soon after, this time right after Flint City nearly opened the scoring. Amadou Cissé nearly got on the end of Matt Fearnley’s cross for the tap-in but was just short on his sliding effort. Right down the other end, the Diablos were again attacking down the right wing. As it was the first time, Cerda crossed into Padilla, and this time his volley bounced onto the crossbar from close range.
The chance served as a wake-up call for Flint City, who would have a downpour of chances through the rest of the half as it began to rain at Atwood.
“I think their fitness levels were a little higher than ours,” Padilla said. “They started pushing a little bit more and took more from us.”
Spotty finishing saw the first series of Bucks chances go astray. Daniel Hernandez played provider for Cissé and Brajdi Cekrezi, but neither was able to put their effort on target.
Towards the end of the half it was on Connor Pettigrew to keep the score level. Cissé was sent through on goal twice, one on either side of the box, and both times Pettigrew was able to deny him. He also saved a header from Hernandez in between the two Cissé chances.
The two sides went into the break level, with the Bucks looking like the clear favorite to score the opener.
The opener would come just minutes into the second half. Nico Clasen’s free kick would strike the bar, and the rebound would fall perfectly for Jannik Videbaek to tap it into an open net.
Six minutes later, the lead was doubled. Cekrezi was played into the box, and found Hernandez open in the six-yard box to head home the second.
“This is a game where you win when you score,” Padilla said. “They took advantage of their chances and put them away.”
Denton would not be down two for long and were given the chance to halve the deficit from the spot in the 56th minute. Padilla was brought down in the box and would step up himself to convert the penalty. Walker got a hand onto the effort but could not stop it from finding the bottom corner.
A collection of ambitious efforts and set piece opportunities kept Denton in it, but Walker was never truly put under pressure again.
“After the goal we were trying to keep creating and putting pressure on them,” Padilla said. “They were running more and in soccer the team that wants it more ends up winning.”
The game would end 2-1, with Flint City lifting the Hank Steinbrecher Cup on their home turf.
“This is just fuel for us,” Padilla said. “We’ll keep on pushing for the rest of the season.”
Denton Diablos FC will be back in NPSL play on June 8, taking on Coyotes FC at home.
Photo Credit: Todd Boone/NPSL.com