A stormy afternoon gave way to a pleasant evening at Finley Stadium, but the play on the pitch was anything but friendly as Chattanooga Football Club and the New Orleans Jesters played to a 1-1 draw Thursday evening in NPSL Southeast Conference play.
This was a match that Chattanooga (2-1-4, 1-0-4 NPSL) needed as they open a stretch of five home matches in less than two weeks, but Jesters’ scoring leader Jonathan Evans spoiled the day with his ninth goal of the season and kept his team undefeated on the season at 4-0-5 and 3-0-3 in league play.
“Not many teams get points up here,” Evans said. “I’m not sure when the last time Chattanooga have lost at home, but we’re having a very good season and we’re still undefeated.”
Chattanooga dominated play for much of the match, and the home side took the 1-0 lead in the sixth minute of play when Jose Francisco Ferraz, better known as Zeca, drove a shot past New Orleans keeper Chad Collins in the sixth minute of play. That was the last goal Collins would allow despite a furious attack by Chattanooga.
“It’s disappointing because we felt like we were on top of the match for most of the match and we had the lead,” Chattanooga coach Bill Elliott said. “We hadn’t conceded a goal up until now from the run of play in league play. Unfortunately they got a goal and their keeper came up with several huge saves.”
After the halftime break, Chattanooga continue to press the attack, but New Orleans began to find ways to create chances of their own. A shot by midfielder Mason Morise came off CFC keeper Pierre Gardan gave Evans the opening he needed as he put the ball off the crossbar and in.
“I saw Mason take a shot from about 20 yards, and saw he had some good power on it so I thought I’d gamble and follow it,” Evans said. “The keeper stopped it and it was coming at me so fast, but I was able to get my body on it and it went in.”
The play was very physical between the two sides, with the refs showing five yellow cards. Chattanooga FC had chances to reclaim the lead late with a near miss by Leo De Smedt off the post and an open run by Felipe Antonio that was kept out by a spectacular save by Collins for New Orleans.
But in the end, the match ended in a 1-1 draw, to give the Jesters what they need as they continue a long road trip and disappoint Chattanooga FC at the start of a crucial homestand with the playoffs looming.
“We are glad to be back home, not thrilled with the result tonight,” Elliot said. “It’s not what we wanted, and I think not what we deserved. But we’re doing the right things, and I have to believe that if we keep doing the right things it’s going to pay off.”