Exciting 2-2 Draw for Pensacola FC and Tallahassee SC

By Pensacola FC

Pensacola FC hosted Tallahassee SC in their 2023 NPSL Gulf Coast Conference home opener on May 13.  This game was looking like a very tricky encounter for both teams.  Tallahassee was coming into this game undefeated with a win and a draw in their previous two matches.  For Pensacola, they were looking to get their first win on opening day.  In the past two seasons they were only able to come away with draws against the same opposition.

The game started with lots of energy as both teams looked to control proceedings very early on.  Pensacola FC looked to have taken the upper hand as they controlled possession inside the first 15 minutes.  However, Tallahassee made it very difficult for the Pelicans to get in behind to create goal scoring chances.  Their sturdy defending kept Pensacola at bay.

Tallahassee started coming into their own, and their confidence in possession sometimes disorganized Pensacola’s midfield.  The ever-lively John Fitzgerald and Stafford Dowling were looking like the ones to create opportunities for the visitors.  Tallahassee’s defense was sturdy and the same can be said for Pensacola.  Marshaled in the back by a commanding Aaron Boateng, the Ghanaian was first to intercept every ball that was played into Pensacola’s box.

As the game progressed, both teams were feeling each other out.  It was truly a moment of who will strike first.  With only two minutes left before the half, Pensacola went on the attack.  A long ball was played into captain Michael Lightbourne who was able to knock it down to Okan Erkocu.  He then connected beautifully with Bernardo Paacheco who found Jabari Hylton wide open on the top of the Tallahassee box.  Hylton clinically finished with a beautiful shot that took a deflection and saw the Pelicans take a 1-0 lead headed into halftime.

With Tallahassee trailing for the third game in a row, the Battle Lions were determined to get a result away from home.  They started the second half with lots of energy as they tried to pin the Pelicans back, seeking that equalizing goal.  Pensacola’s organization in their defensive third was just a bit too much for the Battle Lions.

However, in the 64th minute Tallahassee found the equalizer.  Pensacola’s Keegan Lynch played an errant pass to Cambell Young who was unable to maintain possession.  This allowed Dowling to intercept and beautifully lay the ball into the path of Fitzgerald.  He was able to round goalkeeper Oliver Townend and slot the ball in the goal to get the Battle Lions back on the score sheet.

Things took a turn for the worst as Tallahassee took the lead just ten minutes later. Townend was unable to deal with a ball played into Pensacola’s box.  He was caught out of position, and an open net allowed Dowling to give the Battle Lions the lead. Tallahassee was in the driver’s seat to take all three points and get their first-ever victory over the Pelicans. 

Pensacola had to throw everything into the attacking third if they were to get a result from this game.  Tallahassee dropped back deeper to prevent Pensacola from getting that equalizing goal and leaving with three points.  In the 77th minute Pensacola was awarded a corner after a brilliant shot from Okan Erkocu was saved by Cameron Kostrzewa.  Tallahassee was unable to clear the ensuing corner kick, and the Pelicans were awarded a free kick just outside Tallahassee’s box after Marc Kouadio fouled Carson Hickok as he was about to have a strike on goal.

With Lightbourne off the field, up stepped Hylton to try and get the Pelicans that equalizing goal.  Hylton hit a well-placed shot out of the reach of Kostrzewa for his second goal of the game and gave the Pelicans hope of getting their first win of the season.  With five minutes left in regulation, the Pelicans had a chance to walk away with all three points. 

With some crafty passing from the Pelicans, Iker Casanova was able to play Hylton in behind Tallahassee’s back line.  With the keeper and goal at his mercy, he hit the ball over the bar for what would have been an epic finish to the game for the Pelicans.  As the final whistle blew, both teams had to settle for a point.  

Pensacola head coach Dean Logan shared his thoughts on the match.  

“I thought that the game was evenly contested as both teams tried to play possession,” Logan said.  “For us it was our first game, and what I saw on display from our guys was fun to watch.  We would have liked to walk away with the victory, but I think it was a fair result.  After going behind the guys showed maturity and class, and that reaction got us back into the game.  Unfortunate not to walk away with all three points.”

Pensacola will now host Florida Roots at Shoreline Field in Gulf Breeze, Florida on May 17th with hopes of earning their first win of the season.


Photo Credit: Riley Magnuson


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