ATLetic COMES BACK FROM 0-2 DOWN AND SNATCHES 3 CRITICAL POINTS, CLARKE SCORES IN THE 90TH MINUTE
GOAL SCORER (ASSIST):
1-2 (44′) JOSE BALTAZAR – (DELV CLARKE)
2-2 (78′) “NICO” GARCIA – (DELV CLARKE)
3-2 (90′) DELV CLARKE (NICK LINK)
MAN OF THE MATCH AWARD: DELV CLARKE
VaHi ATLetic FC bounced back from recent disappointing results by defeating Clarkston FC by a score of 3-2, taking their league record to 7-5-1 this season. The game was played at 3 pm under windy conditions at ATLetic’s new home field, Georgia Soccer Park, in SE Atlanta.
ATLetic were looking to regain confidence after loosing 2-1 to top D3 side Georgia Tech Club and a 2-2 tie vs Morehouse SC. The team’s recent inconsistent performances have been costly, in particular last week’s result, in which a comfortable 2-0 lead was not protected and 2 goals were given up in the last 10 minutes of the game.
(ATLetic’s right back Brandon Joyner with possession as a Clarkston player applies pressure)
The initial 15 minutes of the game saw ATLetic attempt to control the ball and impose their style of play. Skipper Felipe Lobelo was back in the formation after missing the last two games, looking to improve the team’s shape and organization and bring back their winning mentality. A couple of chances on runs by Delv Clarke were saved in the last minute by CLarkston’s defenders. The fluidity in the passing was however inconsistent for ATLetic, with sloppy play in the middle, loosing too many balls which made things easy for Clarkston’s youngsters who kept pressing with speed and energy. Clarkston found the opener in the 20′ when a ball lost in the middle was send forward for a Clarkston player who cut a defender inside the box and put it away in the lower corner despite Stilwell’s effort.
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDING CLARKSTON’S 2ND GOAL AND ATLetic’s FIRST GOAL OF THE MATCH
ATLetic seemed stunned to see themselves down against a team they defeated easily earlier in the season by a score of 5-0. It was clear, however that Clarkston had improved as a team as the season progressed. On the other hand, ATLetic’s play was sluggish and sloppy, with lack of intensity and creativity.
(Clarkston FC’s coach Loz Dun saw his team perform very well in the first half)
ATLetic were again architects of their own demise in the 30′ when a shot by Clarkston that was going wide was kept inn and then a player attempting to dribble his way out of pressure at the top of his own box. An ill-advised move that ended up with him loosing the ball and a Clarkston player shooting hard and low pass Stilwell, who was blocked by a forest of legs and could not see the ball in time.
(Stilwell beaten again in the 30′ by a 25-yard shot after ATLetic lost possession in the top of the box)
2-0 down, ATLetic were determined to keep themselves in the game and the subs stepped in. Ricardo Navarro came in for Brandon Joyner in the right back and brought spark and defensive intensity, going hard at every ball. Waller, Baltazar and Ghawi started connecting better in the middle and finding Clarke. The pressure paid off finally in the 44′ when Ghawi send a through ball for Clarke who crossed it for Fo. The Nigerian was brought down in the box but the ref correctly played advantage and Baltazar came in crashing the box to bury the ball in the lower left corner. A great goal for ATLetic out of combination football to get back in the game, right before half-time.
(ATLetic’s Navarro and Ghawi sparked the team in defense and offense to get back in the game)
ATLetic started the second-half knowing the momentum had shifted in their favor, but understanding that the key to get back in the game was playing smart, patient football to find openings. ATLetic enjoyed several chances but Clarkston’s defense was able to hold and send several dangerous counter-attacks. ATLetic kept pressing and playing possession football and eventually their patience paid off. Baltazar and Lobelo connected in the middle much more. In one of those occasions Lobelo send a long ball to CLarke with space behind the defense who again found the open man, in this case “Nico” Garcia crashing the box and putting it away for the equalizer in the 78′.
(ATLetic’s midfield dominated in the second half to turn the game around- Here Lascano connecting with Baltazar)
With the game in the balance and 10 minutes to play, ATLetic kept the pressure up, looking for the winning goal but opening up space for CLarkston’s young, fast legs. Experience in this case paid off and when necessary, ATLetic resorted to tactical fouls to stop them and keep themselves in the game knowing that they will have at least 1 or 2 more chances to score before the game was over. It was that superior experience and positive winning mentality the key factor that allowed them to capitalize on that last chance. One of Nick Link’s specialty long balls was tracked by Fo who attempted a flick. The ball went over his head but that took the defense out of position. Clarke was in the right place at the right time to find the ball, ran 30 yards holding off a defender and put it away with power and precision blasting it over the head of the keeper to win the match with a goal in the 90′.
With the 3-2 lead, ATLetic still had to fend off CLarkston over the 5 minute stoppage period. Baltazar, Lobelo and CLarke showed once again experience and football IQ and rather than giving the ball away they possessed it in the corner kick, deep into Clarkston’s territory until the final whistle was blown.
In the end an important win for ATLetic who were able to fight back from 2 goals down. They found enough grit, positive football, composure and experience to overcome a young, energetic and much improved Clarkston FC side. The team knows they gave up almost 40 minutes to the opposition and had to use everything they had to turn the game around after their sloppy, sluggish start.
In the end a very important victory for ATLetic to keep their 2nd place in the ADASL D3 blue conference, 9 points behind a Piramex side that is looking strong and in control in the final stretch of the season. ATLetic needs to keep a winning mentality over the next few weeks and wait for other results. Still ,the team is fighting in several fronts, looking to finish with as many points as possible, to have a chance for promotion by defending their second place position. Also, star forwards King and Clarke are still in contention for the division’s golden boot with 12 and 10 League goals respectively. So plenty of things to play for in the final stretch of the season for ATLetic.
Man of the match award goes to forward Delv CLarke.
Once again the man born in Birmingham, England showed his value to the team and completed another all-around display with two assists and a last minute goal to win the game. CLarke’s influence in the game goes beyond statistics, however. His pace, strength, hunger and stamina make him a nightmare for opposing teams. He also has quality on the ball, game vision and unselfishness which allows him to start and finish goal opportunities. Kudo’s for Clarke for a team-leading 4th man of the match award! Completing the podium were Nick Link and Ricardo Navarro.
Next stop for ATLetic will be a home game at Georgia Soccer Park field #6 vs Pelicans White FC on February 17th at 1 pm.
Stay tuned for team news and come out to support ATLetic as they battle for promotion in ADASL. Games are free and open to the public!
Check out some game statistics as measured by adidas miCoach