By Pensacola FC
Pensacola traveled to Tallahassee SC for their tenth match of the regular season. The Pelicans were coming off a tough loss against conference leaders Jacksonville Armada FC U-23 in their previous game. Meanwhile the Battle Lions of Tallahassee SC were seeking their first three points of the season. The game ended in a 1-1 draw when these teams met earlier in the season.
Pensacola was determined to stamp their authority on the proceedings early on. They took possession of the ball from the start and were trying to make it very difficult for Tallahassee. Captain Michael Lightbourne, alongside Jarred Dass and Issac Kamara, was causing Tallahassee some problems in the midfield.
However, the Battle Lions were not going to make it easy for Pensacola. Led in the back by Jack Chambers and Myke Zamor, Tallahassee was not allowing Pensacola to get in behind their defensive line. If Pensacola were to break the deadlock, they would need some sort of individual brilliance to unlock the Tallahassee defense.
In the 28th minute, Prince Owusu was up to his magical tricks once more. Dass played a ball out wide to Owusu just inside Tallahassee’s half of the field. With time and space in front of him and Tallahassee’s Corey Osgood approaching, the talented winger was able to get a pass while leaving the defender with no choice but to commit a foul, resulting in a penalty kick for the Pelicans.
Up stepped Lightbourne to take the ensuing spot kick and convert for Pensacola. He placed the ball to the left side of Tallahassee’s Bosco Pery and into the back of the net. This was Lightbourne’s team-leading fifth goal of the season, and he went on to celebrate with his teammates.
Tallahassee was finding it difficult to break into the Pelicans’ defensive third. Every time Josiah Fontenot and company looked like they were going to create a chance, they were greeted by a strong Pensacola back line. Retsin Kabamabala and Marco Navarro were proving too much for Tallahassee as they broke up every attack that the Battle Lions mounted.
As the half neared, fewer chances were created by both teams as neither goalkeeper had any saves to make. With a 30-minute lightning delay, Pensacola was preserving that one-goal advantage. They were bent on taking that lead into the locker room, holding on to full control of the game.
Things got going in the second half as both teams tried to take control of the ball. Tallahassee captain John Fitzgerald, who was kept quiet in the first half, finally started getting into the game. With his passing and movement, he was able to get his teammates into dangerous parts of the field in search of that equalizer.
Against the run of play, Pensacola’s Anthony Ciccarello should have extended his team’s lead when he made a darting run towards Tallahassee’s goal. He got past the retreating Jack Chambers who managed to get a touch on the ball. That touch seemed to have slowed the ball down which fell right into Ciccarello’s path. He was able to get a shot off, but Pery was able to make a huge save.
Both coaches started looking to their benches as they made a number of substitutions as there were lots of tired legs on the pitch. Tallahassee introduced Jean Baptiste Lamango, and this seemed to add a bit of energy and pace to their offense. Pensacola had Kendrick Hernandez, Trey Clements, and Azahrias Ali enter the match. That trio added the extra bit of energy and flare that the Pelicans were missing in the game.
As the Tallahassee back line started tiring, Pensacola was starting to assert themselves once again. Their possession game was proving too much for the Battle Lions. In the 70th minute, Keegan Lynch picked up a ball deep in Pensacola’s half of the field which started an attack for the Pelicans.
The ball landed on the feet of Owusu who was quiet in the second half up until that point. He was able to create space for himself and deliver a telling cross from the left side that beat Tallahassee’s back line. Pensacola’s James Morrissey came rushing in from the back post and was able to guide the ball into the net, putting his team up by two goals.
This was going to be an uphill battle for Tallahassee, as Mark McMillan in the Pensacola goal was seeking his first shutout of the season. With time winding down and Pensacola desperately needing all three points as they pushed for a playoff spot, they were determined not to concede any goals in the dying stages of the game.
Up next for Pensacola is the visiting New Orleans Jesters that sit one spot ahead of them in the Gulf Coast Conference table. The match will be played on Saturday, July 2 at The Foley Sports Tourism Championship Stadium in Foley, Alabama. Kickoff is at 7:00 pm.
James Morrissey shared his thoughts about the game and the goal he scored.
“Felt great to be on the score sheet tonight,” Morrisey said. “The goal put us two goals ahead and in great position to see out the game. Tonight’s performance was a big one for the lads. We are starting to find a rhythm. A clean sheet was needed, and hopefully we can carry this form on.”
Photo Credit: Kelly Shinn/Pensacola FC