By Tyler Andreas/Jackson Lions FC
In a highly anticipated match at Donovan Catholic on Saturday, May 20th, the Jackson Lions faced off against defending NPSL National Champions FC Motown. The home side were determined to redeem themselves after a heartbreaking loss in the same fixture last season where they squandered a three-goal lead. However, it was FC Motown who emerged victorious once again, securing a 4-1 win in an action-packed encounter.
The game started off amidst a great turnout from the home crowd despite the unfavorable weather conditions in Toms River leading up to kickoff. The Lions started the game looking to slow things down for Motown by keeping possession of the ball. However, the visitors had other ideas and were able to create some early chances.
In the 11th minute, Lions right back Olu Ogunwale was cautioned with a yellow card for tripping an FC Motown winger, and just moments later, the defending champions took the lead through a throw-in straight to the head of Christopher Bermudez.
The Lions did attempt to respond fifteen minutes later with their first chance of the game, as Junior Miranda’s effort from outside the area took a deflection which forced a save from the opposition’s goalkeeper. As the first half continued, they continued to show promise with from Duke University’s Kenny Hot also testing the Motown keeper with a low shot from distance. Jackson Lions went into the break hopeful they could snatch a result from the game.
Despite their efforts and positive attitude heading into the second half, Motown’s Michael de Fonte headed in FC Motown’s second goal mere moments after the restart, which took the wind out of the sails of the Lions players.
Consequently, manager Brad Fraley looked to make some tactical changes, introducing Tommy Johnson and Jared Brown in an attempt to change the course of things in the 54th minute. Jack Krongold also entered the fray not long after, replacing Fabio De Sousa, who had a quiet game.
The defending champions extended their lead in the 68th minute when Danny Corderio unleashed an impressive side-footed finish into the top corner, leaving Lions’ goalkeeper Calum Erlenborn helpless. With a 3-0 deficit, the Lions faced an uphill battle.
In the 77th minute, the Lions made another substitution, with Zach Golden joining his brother Brandon on the field, marking their first time playing together in the NPSL. The change seemed to ignite a spark as Jules Anderson found the back of the net with a smart left-footed finish in the 80th minute. Suddenly, a comeback appeared within reach, and the Lions were determined to rally.
However, their hopes were dampened in the 88th minute when Joey Zalinsky was shown a second yellow card for a late tackle after having already been shown one for dissent just moments earlier. FC Motown capitalized on their numerical advantage with substitute Ryan Peterson converting from the ensuing free kick delivery in the 90th minute.
By the time the final whistle blew, FC Motown emerged as 4-1 winners. The Lions showed resilience and fought until the end, but the quality and experience of their opponents proved too much to overcome for this fresh and young Jackson side.
Although the result was disappointing for the Jackson Lions, they can take pride in their spirited performance and their ability to create opportunities against a strong FC Motown side. The team will regroup and analyze the match, seeking areas of improvement as they continue their Keystone East Conference campaign. Jackson Lions FC turns their attention to a matchup against FC Monmouth at Count Basie Park in Red Bank, NJ on Saturday, May 27th.
Photo Credit: Tyler Andreas/Jackson Lions FC