The Southeast Conference just continues to get more intriguing as the season heats up, with nearly all the clubs competing for the top spot in the conference. This weekend, the New Orleans Jesters took a huge leap as the other clubs welcome the challenge.
The New Orleans Jesters (3-1-1) started the weekend off with a trip to Georgia, as they took on the Georgia Revolution (2-3). The Friday night fixture was the first test for the Jesters’ since their 3-1 defeat in Atlanta to the Silverbacks, but they were in good company as they have not lost at home in 2014.
After a quiet first half, Reece Wilson scored his second goal of the year just over the hour mark as he was able to slip in a ball that the Revs could not clear near the mouth of the goal and New Orleans were leading 1-0. Wilson, has now scored in every match that the Jesters have won. Jordan Rice would follow suit for the Jesters just ten minutes later and would get the second goal of the night, but the Jesters would get some bad news as captain Sam Hurrell had to be helped off the field with a leg injury. The English midfielder scored the Jesters’ only goal the week prior against Atlanta.
That would be the Revolution’s only match of the weekend and will have to regroup quickly as they host the Silverbacks in a weekday derby fixture Tuesday night. They then travel to Tennessee over the weekend with matches against Chattanooga on Saturday and Knoxville on Sunday.
Friday night also saw the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves (2-1-2) head to Tennessee where the Knoxville Force (0-4-2) were looking for their first win of the year. Atlanta’s match was their first of two straight on the road and all but two of their first six matches will be played outside of Silverbacks Park.
First it looked as both clubs were going to go onto a scoreless draw after neither club had been able to score in the first hour even though they had great chances (especially Atlanta’s Palamin Fotana), but the Force found their breakthrough.
Atlanta almost got away with a close chance by Knoxville, but the Force’s Mark Hanlon slit home a rebound and gave Knoxville their first lead of the night with 22 minutes left to play. Hanlon’s first goal of the year assured the Force that they would score in all but one match this year. But, Atlanta’s Mario Oliveira put in the equalizer and gave the match its final score as has gone undefeated in their last two matches.
Knoxville have some time off as their next match is not until Sunday (June 15) as they host the Georgia Revolution.
Because the match between Rocket City United (2-1-1) and Chattanooga FC (3-1-1) was postponed due to violent storms in the Huntsville, AL area, the New Orleans Jesters and Nashville FC (3-1-2) was the final and only match on Saturday.
Nashville FC was coming off a 1-1 home draw with Rocket City United last weekend, topped the table, and had the most goals scored in the conference. With that said, Nashville was given a rude awakening Saturday night as the Jesters ripped five unanswered goals past them in a 5-1 result.
It started well for Nashville as they collected the opener just five minutes in when Alan O’Connor, who missed the penalty late in the match last week versus Rocket City United, put the ball in for his second of the year. But that was about all the good news for Nashville on the night as the Reece Wilson show was about to commence.
The substitute captain, in the place of Hurrell, scored just minutes later to equalize. Jesters’ keeper Andrew Tarbell assisted the second New Orleans goal as his punt led Phil Dean perfectly and the Jesters were out and running. Before the half was over Jordan Hulme notched goal number three and the Jesters led 3-1 at the half.
Wilson would get back into the action, as he would convert a penalty right after the second half kickoff. That would be his second penalty converted (first was also at home in win over Chattanooga) of the year. He would then head in the fifth Jesters goal of the night and his fifth of the year as Wilson becomes the highest goal scorer in the Southeast this year and the first to score a hat trick.
New Orleans and Nashville now lead the league with 12 goals for, but the Jesters have only conceded seven to Nashville’s nine. Chattanooga lead the league with just three goals given up.
Nashville FC heads to the Rocket City for a Tuesday night fixture and the Jesters will do the same as they play there Friday night. Chattanooga will next play Friday night (June 13) in Nashville. Their match with RCU will be played on June 18.
Rocket City United will play four matches in eleven days starting Tuesday (June 11).