ATLetic CONCEDES 3 TIMES FOR 1ST HOME DEFEAT OF THE SEASON
GOAL SCORER (ASSIST):
1-0 (20′) FELIPE LOBELO (DELV CLARKE)
2-3 (77′) DELV CLARKE (STEAL)
MAN OF THE MATCH AWARD: NICK LINK
VaHi ATLetic FC fell for the first time at home this season vs Wings Masters by a score of 3-2, taking their league record to 4-2-0 this season.The game was played at 1pm under sunny conditions at ATLetic’s home field, Boulevard Crossing Park, in Atlanta.
ATLetic’s game plan was to press high and play high tempo football to score first and control the game early on. After back-to-back defeats, shaky defensive performances and lack of assertiveness in the midfield, the team was in need of a convincing win to regain their confidence. ATLetic started off with the right mix of possession football and aggressive mentality and applied high pressure against Wings defensive. As a result of the pressure ATLetic got a great chance to go up in the 5′ when forward Deye Gonyon was tripped in the box when attempting to control a pass, resulting in a PK call. ATLetic’s skipper Felipe Lobelo was looking for his 2nd goal of the season (he scored via PK vs Pelicans White on match-day 3) but unfortunately his shot when wide after he couldn’t make good contact with the ball. Despite the missed chance, the team remained mentally strong and true to their game plan, enjoying fluid possession and intensity to pressure. It was only a matter of time for the first goal to come as ATletic clearly dominated the first 20 minutes in the half. In the 20′ the pressure by Lascano and Gonyon won a ball back which Lobelo then gave to Baltazar. The Angolan went on a great run pass two defenders before laying it off for Delv Clarke in the box ,who’s shot attempt was deflected but improperly cleared by a Wings defender under pressure. The skipper trailed the play and was in the right place and time to coolly bury it in the net from the top of the box with a low driven shot pass Wings keeper Rick Smith. Lobelo’s goal erased his miss-kicked PK earlier in the game and deservedly put ATLetic up.
Knowing that Wings was forced to come out of their defensive shell being 1-0 down, ATLetic attempted to pass the ball in the middle and find spaces for counter-attacks to augment their lead. However, the team ended up sitting too much in their lead, the high pressure deflated and that gave Wings some impetus to attack. Wings Masters is a side with lots of experience and it showed when they created chances in set pieces and long throw-ins. It was precisely on a corner kick in the 25th minute that Wings found the equalizer, with a bit of luck, when the driven shot curled towards goal. A bit surprised by the swerve of the ball, Stilwell attempted to clear the ball over the bar but unfortunately, the deflection hit the cross-bar and the ball bounced right in front a Wings player that was able to quickly put it away acrobatically for the 1-1.
Knowing that the goal came as a result of too much sitting back after they got the lead, ATLetic went back to work and created a few half-chances in the ensuing minutes. The best one came in the 43′ after some nifty passing in the middle between King and Clarke. A deflection was captured by Ghawi who threaded a beautiful ball behind the defenders for King, who finished with composure and class with a low curler around Smith, only to see his shot hit the post. A very lucky break for Wings that were able to hold in defense as ATletic kept pressuring over the next 30 seconds. The ball was then cleared long and ATletic regained possession in the back. Lobelo passed it back to Torres who had time and space, perhaps too much, and lost the ball when the Wings forward pressed him. The ensuing cross was not met in the box but once again ATletic was careless with the ball and a Wings player was able to steal the ball twice, after ill-advised dribbling in defense and lobbed a long shot over Stilwell who was out of his line as the team was going up. An unlucky turn of events for ATLetic who had a chance to finish the half up and instead gave up the ball 3 times deep in their field to see themselves go down right before the half-time whistle. Too many errors that were capitalized by an experienced Wings team to go up 2-1 at half-time.
At half-time management did not need to point out the obvious errors that resulted not only in Wings goals but also in ATLetic loosing control of the game after going up. More importantly, the team agreed to stay together and fight to get back in track by playing simple, possession football. Despite everyone one agreeing on what needed to be done, it was clear that team was shaken-up and it was not clear HOW it had to be done. The second half saw ATletic apply pressure but they were unable to find the equalizer despite having several chances off crosses and set pieces, including a beautiful curling corner kick taken by King that Smith masterfully kept out of his goal. However, too much anxiety and “hero” football turned ATletic into a group of good individual players trying to do too much, each on their own, instead of relying on passing, collective work to open the field and create chances. Meanwhile Wings defenders were happy to see an ATletic side that was too predictable playing vertical football with too many long balls , easy for experienced, well positioned defenders to deal with.
Under these circumstances Wings, who had very little possession of the ball, knew that they would have chances to put the game away specially in set pieces. Once again it came in the form a long throw-in that was flicked at the top pf the box in the 60′. The ball fell on a Wingers forward who’s shot was deflected by Joyner but ended right in the path of another Wings player who easily put it away pass Stilwell. Once again a familiar play that ATletic defenders have been unable to deal with in the past 2 games.
The team responded well after being down 3-1, however, and began playing better football with more crisp and calm passing in the middle, opening the field for Wingers Fo and Josh. The team enjoyed several chances to get back in the game with crosses and set pieces but the final touch was just lacking and Wings defenders and keeper had a really good day. Late in the half, the game turned into a box-to-box contest. Lobelo cheaply gave up a ball in the middle and a Wings forward found with Stilwell to his mercy. The #1 responded well as he usually does in 1 on 1 situations and deflected the shot. Wings followed-up on the rebound and this time it was central defender Nick Link who came to the rescue and effectively kept ATLetic in the game by saving the shot in the goal line. On the ensuing play, ATletic went for the counter-attack and this time Delv Clarke was able to find a lucky break after a defender’s miscue that saw him with a great open opportunity in the box. He did not miss, blasting his shot pass a rushing Smith to put ATLetic back in contention down 2-3. A rewarding goal for Clarke who pressured all game long and put Wings defenders on their toes in more than one occasion.
The last 10 minutes of the game saw ATLetic pushing for an equalizer that unfortunately never came despite Wings being down one man after a red card. ATletic was close on several occasions on set pieces but Smith and his defenders held strong for a famous on-the-road win for a Wings side that has struggled in League play but that advanced to 2nd round in Perrin Cup after defeating Bafana
In the end, another tough defeat for ATLetic, even harder to swallow than their previous one. ATLetic was clearly frustrated, despite dominating much of the game and possession of the ball, their errors in defense, lack of passing in the middle and unlucky and anxious plays in attack ended up costing them the game and they have no one to blame but themselves. The team clearly underperformed and let the game slip out of their hands with errors in key moments of the game and an overall mediocre performance.
Man of the match award goes to central defender Nick Link. Since his arrival to the Club Nick has been playing well in defense and has also exhibited a powerful shot. In this game he was big in defense including saving a ball in the goal line and also helped in offense and the team’s transition with several well-placed 40 and 50-yard diagonal passes to the forwards. Congrats! Completing the podium for this game Delv Clarke and Felipe Lobelo
After the holiday break, ATLetic will travel to Point University in SE Atlanta to face a tough Pelicans Blue side, currently tied in 2nd place in their division and with the same points 12 points as ATLetic. This will be a true test on ATletic’s resilience and mental toughness. They will need to stop the bleeding, be positive and play smart football, not only as individuals but as a team. Football is a state of mind and lately, ATLetic has been timid, with too many doubts and too tight. Enjoying themselves in the field while playing with intensity and a balanced approach will surely get them out of this 3-game loosing streak.
Stay tuned for team news and come out to support ATLetic in their quest for the D3 ADASL title. Games are free and open to the public!
Check out some game statistics as measured by adidas miCoach