As Saturday night rolled around, the Blues fans came matching in. The food trucks began prepping for the night, Hi-Wire tents readied taps and coolers and the stage was set for another Asheville City home game. Setting a season-high attendance of over two thousand electrifying supporters, Memorial Stadium never felt so alive.
Kickoff ensued at 8:30 pm to the relief of Asheville fans who could hardly wait another second. The Blues started on the ball early. Maintaining position and looking up field with each touch powered a surge of aggressive momentum early on. The combined attacking power of Deeley, Szalay and N’For proved to be a mighty task for the Silverbacks defenders. Motivated by the loudest crowd yet to set foot in Memorial, the Blues came out with their minds set on excellence.
In the 20th minute, Asheville City’s Tom Deeley found himself in another opportunity to perform as a top-class winger. Curving a pass through the air and into Atlanta’s box, the crowd held their breath as it approached leading goal scorer, Elma N’For. With an acrobatic touch, N’For’s brilliant strike beat the keeper for a very cheeky goal. Upon seeing the magnificent display from Deeley and N’For, fans leaped to their feet and paraded widely. Hugs and high-fives filled the stands as the Blues lead 1-0.
Asheville City stayed on the ball for a good portion of the first sixty minutes. Earning corner after corner, Asheville found their stride and maintained a high intensity pace against the conference leaders. With the Blues refusing to back down and fighting for every opportunity, Atlanta was forced to drop back and play conservative defense. This strategy allowed the Silverbacks to draw out the game into a battle of possession rather than shots on goal. However, it left the Atlanta attacking side of the ball lacking.
Fighting through tough physical play and harsh tackles the Blues continued to defend their home field. Unfortunately, in the 61st minute, a move made by an Atlanta striker left Asheville City stalled long enough to find an opening. Shot from outside the box and nearly making contact with several gathered players, the ball finished its line into the back of the net. An equalizer by Atlanta locked the score 1-1.
As the games closing third ticked away, Asheville did not let off the gas. Making smart passes and working the ball up field, the Blues fought for three points. These surges created an overflowing offensive push and several near misses. As the match concluded, the shots on goal by the City exceeded Atlanta’s shots of goal substantially but the final scoreboard read: 1-1.
This match would have been the same if it had not have been for the loyal fan base that shows up and shows out every home game. The fans were especially a factor for the players from Atlanta.
As stated by Atlanta Silverbacks forward Kentaro Takada, “It was a tough night for us. You’ve got 2,000+ fans behind that team and it made it extremely difficult for us.”
There is something to be said about the Blues fans in Asheville.
Up next, the Blues take on the Savannah Clovers this Tuesday, June 20th. Be sure to bring your friends and family, as Par-T-Perfect plans to provide Asheville’s inflatables along with local food and beer from vendors.