The Atlanta Silverbacks Football Club earned a 2-2 draw against Inter Nashville FC late Saturday night. A soggy evening filled with lightning and thunder pushed the 7:00 pm kickoff to 9:00 pm. Wet conditions and a delayed start left both teams scrambling from the beginning.
Atlanta looked the stronger side in the early going, pressing the Nashville back line into uncomfortable situations in the opening minutes. Forward “Keka” Kamara made several runs into the box, but ended up with an early red card that left Atlanta down a man and without their most potent offensive weapon.
The ‘Backs remained aggressive once they became short-handed, and that attitude set the tone for the rest of the match. Atlanta was not afraid to attack the interior of the Nashville back line that had given up 2.20 goals per game. In the 28th minute, midfielder Abraham Lansana corralled a loose ball roughly 40 yards from net. Knowing the conditions and position the team was in, he decided to rip a shot on goal. He beat Nashville goalkeeper Carson Oakes and gave Atlanta the 1-0 advantage. Only six minutes later, a beautifully lofted ball into the box for Inter Nashville landed at the foot of midfielder Greg Warden. He buried his chance to level the match 1-1 at the break.
The second half began to show the one-man advantage the road team had earned. Nashville dominated possession and seemed destined to methodically find a winning goal. Atlanta’s few second half chances came on set pieces, and one set piece in the 75th minute yielded a great result for the home side. Center back Mo Issahaku had been bullying the Nashville attack most of the night, but found himself playing forward on the 75th minute free kick. The ball bounced to Mo’s foot at the top of the box. He spun to lose a defender and buried a brilliant shot past the diving goalkeeper to give Atlanta the 2-1 lead with fifteen minutes to play.
Late substitution Brian Pretel Plata collected a mishandled ball from Nashville and had a one-on-one chance with the goalkeeper, but a heavy touch lost the scoring chance. Atlanta would live to regret that soon after, as Cristian Gomez placed a free kick perfectly above the ‘Backs wall and beyond goalkeeper Theo Blachon to equalize. A late two-on-one chance for Atlanta was wisely derailed by a Nashville defender that tackled Nyambi Jabang, earning a red card. Both teams held on to earn a tough point.
Isshaku knew how close the ‘Backs were to stealing three points. “We worked hard together today. We deserved that win there at the end. We were this close.”
Isshaku mentioned that there was no panic after Atlanta lost its top goal scorer early. “Stuff like that happens. We just have to adjust. The leaders on the field…Abdul, Sheriff…just got us to stick together. We managed two goals and got a point, even down a man for 70 minutes.”
Justin Hanover asked Isshaku about the team starting to gel, having earned eight points in their last four matches after back to back losses to Asheville City SC. “It seems like we’re starting to find our identity. We’re starting to figure it out. We’ve known since the start of the season: when we figure it out, we can be a very productive team.”
Lansana is not known for his offensive skill as a holding midfielder, but he noted that the wet conditions may have played a part in his productive game. “I think the weather brought my game out. I love the feet being a little wet and the ball moving.”
Lansana enjoyed seeing the continuous push by Atlanta, despite the disadvantage. “We played hard. I love how our team pushed until the very end, even when we’re down a man less than twenty minutes into the match.”
While he was satisfied to take a point with a man disadvantage, Lansana said the bar continues to be set high. “We got a positive result, but we’ll try to get all three points Wednesday.”
The Silverbacks continue NPSL play Wednesday night when they travel to New Orleans to face the Jesters at 7:00 pm CT. Atlanta returns home on Saturday, June 16th when they host Greenville FC at 7:00 pm EST.
Contributor: Jordan Coker/Atlanta Silverbacks FC
Photo Credit: Dave Williamson