AFC Cleveland’s season comes to an end with a 3-1 loss to the hands of FC Buffalo.
Chances were few, but even in the first half as FC Buffalo outshot the Royals, but the visitors had a clear, 4-0 edge in corner kicks earned. Both squads missed chances to go ahead, and Ivanov made the play of the half using his quick reflexes to make a close range save by extending his right leg.
As the Royals pressed for a goal to help them earn a spot in the 2017 NPSL playoffs, the game opened up in the second half, and the squad’s missed opportunities came back to bite them as their opponents capitalized on a couple counter attacks to put themselves ahead.
Substitute Reymar Klochko produced a consolation goal for AFC Cleveland, but not until the squad conceded twice during the later stages of the half. FC Buffalo was lifted by Akean Shackleford, who used his quickness to generate a number of chances for the Blitzers, and Kendell McFayden, who scored a brace in his first match returning from an injury.
McFayden would cap an eventful 18 minutes of action with a 90’ red card, which he earned along with Royals players Tom Beck and Mike Derezic in an altercation as the match neared its final whistle.
First Half Highlights
Vinny Bell had a path to goal in the 9th minute after a beautiful flick pass from Yianni Sarris. Bell turned on his jets and advanced the ball to the endline before his shot was turned out of bounds by a recovering defender.
Another great effort play from Bell almost led to the Royals first goal in the 15th, when the forward saved the ball from rolling over the endline and played a square pass begging to be hit. Beck nearly got his foot to it, but the ball rolled harmlessly out of the goal area.
FC Buffalo forward Cameron Emerson attempted his second shot of the match in the 23rd after being on the receiving end of Austin Stout’s cross. Emerson’s pulled his attempt left of the goal frame and into the side netting.
The Blitzers had another chance in the 31st in a scrum in front of Ivanov’s goal. The Royals had difficulties clearing the ball out of the box, leading to two chances for the home side to shoot from close range, but the Royals defense stepped up to block each attempt.
The best chance of the half came for FC Buffalo just three minutes later, but a terrific save from Ivanov kept the score knotted up. Blitzers midfielder Jake Cooper was on the receiving end of an over-the-top pass into the penalty area, and brought the ball down directly in front of Ivanov before firing from point-blank range. Ivanov stood tall and blocked the shot with an outstretched right leg.
Second Half Highlights
The first chance of the second half came as Mike Derezic attempted a driven cross from the endline after a positive combination between himself, Yianni Sarris, and Skye Harter, but the service drifted high and wide of the goal frame.
The Royals put together an opportunity in the 57th when Harter sent a pass to Beck in the central attacking area. Beck’s first touch put a streaking Derezic in line for an open shot on goal, but the midfielder’s strike went wide-left.
FC Buffalo stuck first in the 59th as the speedy Shackleford was played into the area by Austin Stout. Royals defenders appealed for an offside infraction on Shackleford, but the forward zipped into the box and finished his one-on-one opportunity.
The home side doubled their lead in the 74th via a diving header from Kendell McFayden. The Blitzers goalscorer was only on the pitch for seconds after coming on as a substitute before running into the attacking half and hammering the ball into the back of the net.
The Royals brought one back in the 86th as Derezic found substitute Klochko open in the penalty area. Klochko was heavily guarded, but poked the ball over Jeremy Figler and into the top of the net.
McFayden earned his second goal of the night, and the dagger for FC Buffalo on a breakaway opportunity when played into the box by Christopeher Walter in the 87th.
As frustrations boiled over in the 90th for the Royals, an altercation broke out that led to three issued red cards. Two went to AFC Cleveland players Tom Beck and Mike Derezic, and the other was given to FC Buffalo substitute goalscorer Kendell McFayden.