On July 8th at Memorial Stadium, the Blues fans came marching in. Scattered rain storms earlier in the afternoon had alluded to another wet match but blue skies made their way on to the scene just as warm ups began. For the Blues, the season finale against Inter Nashville FC meant one last opportunity to play at home behind their tremendous supporting staff. As gates opened, Memorial Stadium welcomed over 2,500 supporters as the ticket booths were cleaned out of admission passes. As kickoff rolled around, the loyal, loud and ever-present atmosphere created by Asheville City soccer fans had truly grounded its roots into their inaugural season.
As the game commenced, Asheville City looked strong on the ball, commanding possession and pressing an aggressive, offensive front early. Starting at left wing for the City, Tom Deeley nearly connected with the back of the net on a handful of occasions in the early showings of the match. Working with his Blues Brother, Elma N’For, the pair created a seamless “give and go” transition towards the net, beating defenders to the ball. A quick touch from Deeley looked promising but to his disbelief, a few inches separated the City striker from another specular scoring play. As they have done all season, Deeley and N’For were able to cleverly create goal-scoring opportunities in this match through their impressive passing and explosive pace.
Unfortunately for Asheville City fans however, in the 15th minute of the half, Inter Nashville found a quick go ahead goal. With the wind taken out of the home crowd sails, the Blues needed a momentum shifting play to bring life back into Memorial. Only eight minutes later, center midfielder Mitch Botfield received a pass from N’For outside the box. Powerfully striking the ball, Botfield’s shot soared like a rocket into the back of the net. The equalizer for Asheville City shocked the crowd who erupted in excitement. Botfield’s first goal for the Blues coupled with N’For’s first assist made this shot one for the record books. When the half concluded, the game reminded tied 1-1.
The second half for Asheville City spelled disaster. A goal in the 49th minute for Inter Nashville put the opposing side ahead and created a downward spin for the Blues. Later in the match, a goal called back for offsides by the City added to the list of second half struggles. In the closing minutes of the match, a third goal scored by Inter Nashville ultimately ended the night. The final score: 3-1.
Next up, the Blues travel to Atlanta to play in the 2017 NPSL Playoffs powered by Mitre. Scheduled for 3:30 pm on Tuesday, July 11 at Silverbacks Park, Asheville City looks to make a run at the Southeast Conference crown. With championship hopes and dreams alive in the city of Asheville, things are sure to heat up in the coming days. As always, be sure to follow all social media platforms for updates and highlights throughout the season.