By Pensacola FC
Pensacola FC hosted AFC Mobile in a NPSL Gulf Conference clash on Wednesday at the Foley Sports Tourism Championship Stadium in Foley, Alabama. The game started off with both teams cautiously testing each other as they each were coming off losses in their previous match.
Pensacola had the earliest chance to take the lead in the 10th minute when a great sequence of passing allowed Prince Owusu to get in behind the Mobile backline. Owusu floated a beautifully weighted cross to a wide-open James Morrissey who had an empty net at his mercy but managed to hit wide from three yards out. That miss seemed to wake up the Azaleas who were looking for their first points of the season.
Mobile broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute after some good interchanging passing saw Alex Lozano in on goal with only Pensacola goalkeeper Mark McMillan to beat. Lozano placed a beautifully struck ball to the left hand corner of McMillan. That goal seemed to spark some life into the Azaleas as they started growing in confidence. Pensacola was struggling to get anything going in their attacking third and couldn’t find that final pass to create a goalscoring chance. Things seemed to have settled a bit in the game as both teams were trying to retain possession of the ball.
Pensacola was starting to see a bit more of the possession, but a clumsy giveaway in the 32nd minute just outside the 18-yard box by Pensacola’s Lorenzo Pereira-Weber saw the ball land directly at the feet of Mobile’s Ronaldo Fortune.
Fortune then placed a powerfully low shot to the bottom right hand corner of Pensacola’s goal. That gave the Azaleas a 2-0 lead and put them on course for what would be an upset of a team that beat them twice in the regular season last year. As both teams entered the locker rooms for halftime, Mobile would have felt that they deserved to be on top and would come out looking for more goals in the second half.
With Pensacola down by two goals, they had to come out blazing if they were to get themselves back into the game. Just as the half ended, the Pelicans were having most of the possession, but just couldn’t find that goal to cut the deficit. Then in the 47th minute Mobile’s Tate Richards was shown a second yellow card for a tackle on Pensacola’s Azahrias Ali. Pensacola head coach Dean Logan introduced Michael Lightbourne, who was nursing a slight injury, to help them get that goal and cut the scoreline in half.
With a man down, Mobile had to change their tactics. The Azaleas sat deep in their half and were looking to hit Pensacola on the counter attack as the Pelicans pushed players higher up the field. The game grew more frustrating for Pensacola as they came close on a couple of occasions. Chances fell to Jayce Dotson and Jarred Dass but they just couldn’t find the back of the net. Christopher Salamatou could have rubbed salt into the wounds of Pensacola as he was able to create a chance in the dying stages with some fancy footwork, only to be denied by McMillan in the Pensacola goal.
As the final whistle blew, the Azaleas recorded their first victory of the season and their first-ever win over Pensacola. That win should give them that added boost as they look to climb the table in the Gulf Conference. Pensacola will need a quick turnaround as they travel to Florida Roots on Sunday, June 12 for what can decide who will be crowned the 850 Cup Champions.
]Logan shared his thoughts on the game.
“Credit to Mobile,” Logan said. “They came in seeking their first points of the season, and they were clinical in the final third. We just couldn’t put away our chances which in the end was not favorable to us.”
Photo Credit: Steven MacNaughton/Pensacola FC