Asheville City fought back to earn a 1-1 draw with Chattanooga FC in the first leg of the 2018 Blue Ridge Derby.
The match started with the Blues holding possession for most of the first 10 minutes. In the 15th minute, Elma N’for was brought down right on the edge of the box, but the referee signaled for a free kick rather than a penalty. The ensuing free kick was sent just over the bar.
Chattanooga began to test the Asheville City defense, but the Blues didn’t break as Parker Siegfried came up with some clutch saves.
The Blues were given a major boost in the 44th minute when Chattanooga’s goalkeeper Nick Croucher was given a red card, giving Asheville City a man advantage for the rest of the match.
Asheville City began the second half with extended possession, but only one real scoring chance on a corner that was cleared.
Chattanooga began their second half offensive onslaught and could have found a couple of goals if it wasn’t for Siegfried getting in the way. But in the 72nd minute, substitute Charlie Clark scored their goal from a tough angle to give the shorthanded hosts the lead.
The Blues responded immediately in the 77th minute when Jamie Smith headed in a corner kick. With the goal, Asheville City relentlessly looked for the winner.
The Blues looked to have that winner in the 85th minute when N’for was one on one with the goalkeeper, but the keeper guessed right and saved N’for’s shot attempt.
The game ended a few minutes later with the same 1-1 score line. While it wasn’t the result Asheville City was hoping for, it earned a crucial point in a tough venue.
The Blues will have a quick turnaround as they head to Atlanta Saturday looking for the sweep of the Silverbacks.
Contributor: Alex McLoughlin/Asheville City SC
Photo Credit: Shane Burke/Asheville City SC