The Atlanta Silverbacks Football Club earned a 1-1 draw Saturday night against Greenville FC at Furman University. The draw put Atlanta at 2-1-2 (1.40 PPG) as they continue an unrelenting stretch of games, playing their third match in eight days. The result puts GFC at 1-2-3 (0.83 PPG) on the season.
A warm day gave way to a raucous crowd at Eugene Stone Stadium at Furman. From the 7:00 pm kickoff, both teams were content to hold back and rely on their back lines. Atlanta earned an early penalty kick, but Greenville keeper Paul Tyson made a diving stop on ‘Keka’ Kamara’s attempt. Only minutes later, captain Sheriff Suma sent a ball into the box that deflected off of a GFC defender and found the back of the net. After three score scoreless matches, Suma has scored in back-to-back matches.
After halftime, Greenville FC increased the pressure, yearning for the equalizer. Atlanta was unable to counter during this consistent period of attack. Greenville FC finally drew level when Quinn McNeill’s rocket from 20 yards out beat ‘Backs goalkeeper Theo Blachon. From there, the pressure only increased from the home side.
Both sides traded scoring chances down the stretch, but matters got heated in the 89th minute after a near Atlanta score. Center back Ebrima ‘Tacchi’ Njie went toe to toe with a few Greenville FC players and a skirmish ensued. Njie was awarded a red card, leaving the ‘Backs short handed for the short remainder of the match. Despite that, Atlanta still forced Greenville FC goalkeeper Paul Tyson to make last-minute, crucial saves.
Right back Ryan Marcano has excelled on both ends of the field in his first season in Atlanta. He spoke about holding on when the home team turned up the pressure.
“That red card really took a toll on us. We were able to hold our own on the back end. By the end, we were just kicking it forward.”
He noted that the ‘Backs held control early on before succumbing to an assault of offense from Greenville.
“In the beginning of the game, I think we controlled it pretty well. We had pretty good chances. But by the end, we were just clearing it out of the box. Trying to kill the chances and hold onto the point.”
Suma found the back of the net for the second consecutive match. When calls and momentum began to mount up, head coach Roberto Neves adjusted the defense to hold off GFC.
“After the red card, we adjusted to a five [-man back line] defense. Whenever we got possession, we knew we had speed to attack. We tried to put the ball on frame any chance we had at the end.”
The red card situation in the 89th minute left some ‘Backs frustrated, but Suma knew he needed to exude a calming presence.
“Whenever something comes up like this, I take personal responsibility to talk to the ref. We have to focus on our game. Whatever the ref calls, whatever cards come out, we have to remain focused on our game.”
Atlanta remained just focused enough to escape Greenville with a point.
The ‘Backs continue a rigorous stretch Wednesday when they host cross-town rival Georgia Revolution FC. Kickoff has been moved from 7:00 pm to 5:00 pm after facility management issues.
Contributor: Jordan Coker/Atlanta Silverbacks FC
Photo Credit: Jordan Coker/Atlanta Silverbacks FC