Asheville City travelled to McDonough, GA for the away leg of their season series against the Georgia Revolution. The implied importance of the match was evident to both teams, having all the makings of a classic six pointer as the playoffs draw near. For the Revolution, it was a chance to put themselves firmly back into the playoff chase; for Asheville City it was an opportunity to increase the ever-important points gap between third and fourth.
Georgia Revolution started the game on the front foot, forcing Asheville keeper Victor Spaggiari, making his season debut, to make two world class saves from point blank range. The game’s first score, however, came against the run of play. Asheville City’s favorite combination of Tom Deeley to Elma N’For struck again to give the Blues the lead. Deeley found himself with space in a dangerous position on the left side of the Revs penalty area. Despite shouts from the bench and traveling South Slope Blues to take a chance himself, he calmly found the run of his strike partner N’For who was never going to be denied, slotting the shot into the left corner of the net. The remainder of the half saw Asheville City settle further into the game as both sides saw chances although none were taken.
The Revolution, knowing that their season very well could hang in the balance in the next 45 minutes, came out of the halftime break flying. Asheville struggled to maintain the momentum from the closing stages of the first half and had trouble gaining possession to open the second half. The Revolution took advantage of nice build up play around the City area to score in both the 50th and 65th minutes. Halftime thoughts of a clean sheet and a triumphant return home quickly faded for the Blues. However, as they have time after time this season, City took the blows and responded quickly with one of their own. Just two minutes later, Nick Boegemann was able to use his head to beat the keeper at the far post from a free kick whipped in from Tom Deeley. It was Boegemann’s first goal of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time for Asheville City. The goal clearly reenergized the Blues as the closing twenty minutes consisted of chance after chance for City to find the winner. The two best chances came when Ben Chapal rattled the cross bar from ten yards out and when Elma N’For was tackled at the last possible moment following an incredible solo run straight at the Revs defense. Asheville were also unable to convert from multiple corner opportunities following several frantic clearances from the Revolution. The referee blew the full-time whistle and both teams were left disappointed with the Revs unable to close the gap in the playoff race and the Blues unable to deliver what could have been a devastating blow.
The result left Asheville in third place with ten points through eight games and just above the line for playoff qualification, although they maintain a healthy seven point gap over the Revolution. City will return home in seven days time to face the conference-leading Atlanta Silverbacks in a match that will decide the tone for the remainder of the regular season. Will Asheville reassert themselves back into the fight for that coveted first round bye, or will they continue to have to keep a watchful eye down the table? We will find out under the lights June 17th at Memorial Stadium in downtown Asheville.