Chattanooga FC used its quick-strike offensive power to get a much-needed 2-1 win over Greenville FC on Saturday night at Finley Stadium.
After Jack Hoey scored in the 50th minute of play to equalize the match 1-1, Everson Lima answered a minute later with a header off a set piece for the game-winner.
“He’s been close to scoring goals four or five times this season on headers, and it’s really brilliant that he got one,” CFC head coach Bill Elliott said. “I think it really settled us down, to be honest. We were a little bit rattled in that moment, and the goal helped us settle.”
The win helps Chattanooga FC keep pace in the race for the Southeast Conference title, pulling them within two points of conference-leading New Orleans Jesters as the regular season winds down. A victory was crucial to the team’s chances, heading into a big game on Wednesday against Inter Nashville FC. Greenville FC will host Asheville City SC on Wednesday.
“I feel like we did really good and got the win,” CFC goalkeeper Philip D’Amico said. “We’re two points behind first place with a game in hand, so we knew we had to get the win. We had a plan and we executed even though we gave a soft goal away. But we’ll fix that.”
Chattanooga FC took the lead in the first half on a 26th-minute goal by Caleb Cole assisted by Cameron Woodfin.
“I mean it’s huge, I mean we’re competing with a lot of good teams in the conference right now,” Cole said. “It’s a pretty close race right now for the top spot so we knew that we had to play well today as a team and get a good result. We always want to play well for our fans at home, so it’s huge.”
The win for Chattanooga FC avenged a 1-1 draw when the two teams met in Greenville on June 9, in a game where Greenville scored an equalizing goal in stoppage time to spoil the night for CFC.
As the time wound down following Lima’s goal, both teams created chances and played aggressively. Yellow cards were issued to two Greenville players and a Chattanooga player, and Greenville’s Ismael Noumansane was sent off with a red card after pushing one of CFC’s reserve players in the bench area.
“I think that’s a byproduct of the league we’re in,” Greenville FC coach Lee Squires said. “It’s so competitive and there’s a small gap from bottom to top. Everybody right now still has a lot to play for, and you’re seeing guys on both sides just leaving it all out there.”
The match was played in front of 3,524 fans at the always-rowdy Finley Stadium, and D’Amico felt that the crowd played a big part in Chattanooga FC’s win.
“With these fans, it’s hard for any team to come in and get momentum,” he said. “It’s so hard for any team to come in here and beat us. There’s nothing like it in any other NPSL team.”
As Greenville FC is winding down its first season in the NPSL, Squires was proud of his side’s effort but in the end he felt their inexperience showed against a Chattanooga team with experience winning at big moments.
“Obviously they’re a very good team, and coming in here in front of this crowd was always going to be difficult. We were just a little sluggish in the first half, and maybe showed them too much respect.
“We had a much better go of it in the second half and had a great goal to get back in it, but then we conceded off a set piece and that did it. In the last 35 or 40 minutes, they’re just probably smarter and more experienced than we are in slowing down the game and killing the clock.”
Contributor: Jim Tanner/NPSL.com
Photo Credit: Jim Tanner/NPSL.com