Tom Beck’s brace led the AFC Cleveland to its fourth consecutive victory by a 2-0 scoreline over the Rochester Lancers in the Royals’ last NPSL regular season home match of 2017.
The monumental win sends AFC Cleveland past the Lancers in the East Conference in both points and points per game with only two matches remaining, putting the boys in blue in the driver’s seat for a playoff position.
Friday’s match was a hotly contested matchup between two sides desperate for a win. The Lancers did well to control possession, and pressure Alex Ivanov and the AFC Cleveland defense to earn a few chances on goal. Wasted chances in front of goal would ultimately doom the traveling Lancers, who also became the fourth straight opponent to be kept out of goal by the Royals.
As has been the case in recent weeks, AFC Cleveland weathered the early storm to settle into the match and earn better chances as the match progressed. Chances that were cut out in the beginning began to open up for the home side, and giving an inch to Tom Beck once again proved disastrous for AFC Cleveland’s opponent. Beck now has scored five goals in five regular season appearances, three coming in the last two games.
Ivanov would earn his third consecutive clean sheet in the club’s most important regular season game to date, coming up with his usual display of spectacular saves, and facilitating some offense on the night with deep drop kicks to Vinny Bell, who used his head to flick balls into space for his wingers. One such opportunity led to his assist on Beck’s second goal.
First Half Highlights
The Royals played on the defensive for the first eight minutes of the match until Cvecko nearly found Truax on a cross. Vinny Bell pinpointed a pass to Cvecko, whose cross was cut out just before Truax could put a clean shot on goal.
AFC Cleveland was given a scare in the 20th when Lancer Alex Harding got off a clean shot at the center of the goal area. Alex Ivanov made a save on the shot, but the ball dropped to Rochester forward William Stone, who was left wide open in front of net. Stone was judged to be offside on the rebound, and put his shot to the left of the post anyway.
A 27th minute foul in the AFC Cleveland defensive area put the Royals in a dangerous position from the ensuing free kick. The curler from the right corner of the box was begging to be hit, but the skipped past the scrum after Beck was the first to get a head to it.
Tom Beck opened the night’s scoring with a slotted shot to the left of Lancers keeper William Banahene. Beck’s blistering run was fed by Sarris, whose pass at the midfield line was picked up 25 yards down the field by Beck. After a couple key dribbles, Beck calmly finished the only goal of the half.
A beautiful combination in the 37th almost led to another AFC Cleveland goal. Cancar’s outlet pass found Beck, who delivered a behind-the-back pass to a streaking Cvecko. Sprinting down the right flank, Cvecko sent a low cross to the center of the box, and a brilliant dummy by Sarris left Bell open for shot in front of goal. Bell brought the ball down with his left foot to set up a shot with his right, but his attempt was denied by a diving Banahene.
The Royals closed out the half with another chance in the 44th minute. Ivanov started play following a save with a long kick downfield. When the ball fell, Vinny Bell flicked ahead to Truax, whose shot required an acrobatic save from Banahene to end the chance.
Second Half Highlights
A slip from Cancar in the 52nd almost led to the first Lancer goal of the match. Cancar intercepted a cross with his chest, but could not bring it to his feet before an oncoming Jared Toth stepped in to place a shot towards Ivanov. Ivanov stood tall to keep the Royals one goal ahead.
The Royals extended their lead in the 56th on a play reminiscent of their chance to end the first half. Vinny Bell was on the receiving end of a long ball from Ivanov, and flicked it with his head in the path of Beck, who finished for his second tally of the night.
Beck almost earned a hat trick in the 67th minute. The Royals right winger ran onto a pass from Derezic and looked to have put a great shot in on a 1v1 opportunity, but hit it at too wide of an angle and drifted out of play.
Vinny Bell nearly scored in the 76th, hitting both the crossbar and right goalpost after a headed shot from a Beck corner kick.
Beck again connected well with a hard shot at Banahene in the 76’, but the shot was saved by the keeper’s outstretched leg.