Chattanooga FC drew New Orleans Jesters Saturday night in front of a raucous Finley Stadium crowd. Chattanooga FC head coach Bill Elliott chose to switch up the formation from a traditional 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1, and his strategy paid off early. The match began with an early Felipe Oliviera score only one minute in. “Pipe” Oliviera’s goal was a stroke of class, as the Brazilian received a long on target pass from Juan Hernandez, made a shift to his right, and then drilled the ball past the keeper on the left hand side. The 1-0 lead gave the boys in blue the upper hand, and they dominated most of the first half.
Chattanooga FC goalkeeper Tom Halsall saw limited action in the first half, as the ball resided mainly on the Jesters’ side of the pitch. Defender Juan Sanchez, playing center back with Everson Lima, provided some strong defensive cover and allowed CFC to launch several counter attacks against the Jesters, who held steady and sent both clubs into the locker room with a 1-0 score.
Early in the second half, Elliott made some crucial substitutions that paid quick dividends. In the 66th minute, Joao Costa came in with Jose “Zeca” Ferraz, replacing Santiago Moore and Oliviera on the wings. Shortly after, lone striker Charlie Clarke came out, replaced by Luke Winter. The Costa and Winter subs proved to be fruitful in the 78th minute as Costa broke away from the defense, screaming down the left hand side of the pitch. He then sent a perfect cross to Winter, who did not miss the opportunity to score his first goal of the 2018 season. Just like that, it was 2-0 and CFC was rolling.
New Orleans hung tough and was able to capitalize on some opportunities late in the game. In the 85th minute, Jesters’ Oliver Roberts got a goal back for the away team. Finally, as extra time dwindled away, Tom Peers made the most of a misplayed Tom Halsall save and drilled the ball home to level the scoring at 2-2.
“Credit to New Orleans for staying focused and making the most of some key chances,” Elliott commented. “We felt like we were in control for most of the match, and it’s a shame that we lost focus at the end. It’s still early in the season, and we’ll learn from this and take our learnings on the road. It will only make us better in the end.”
“There’s no question that the last 20 minutes of the match could’ve gone better for us, but we have to stay positive and move forward,” Chattanooga FC GM Sean McDaniel said. “We’re playing five matches over the next three weeks, and every one of them on the road. We will take the positives from this match and apply it to the next match.”
Contributor: Chattanooga FC
Photo Credit: Ray Soldano