AFC Mobile fell to Gulf Coast Premier League leaders Gaffa FC 3-1 on Saturday, allowing two second-half goals in a physical affair.
AFC Mobile conceded first through an own goal by Dawson Jellenc in the eighth minute–the first shot on Mobile’s net, and the only shot that goalkeeper Elijah Gibson faced until the 34th minute.
“In the first half, we played pretty decent,” AFC Mobile manager Nate Nicholas said. “We gave up a first goal, made a few mistakes, Dawson tried to slide and it deflected in. After that, we picked our heads up and played really well. I thought in the first half, we were the better team. We had a few opportunities. We could have been up 3-1.”
Chisom Ogbonna equalized for the Azaleas in the 24th minute after Mobile’s high pressure forced a turnover at the Gaffa end. The Nigeria native and former FC Wichita star took one touch and blasted it past the opposing keeper. Mobile dominated the rest of the half, with six shots on goal to Gaffa’s lone effort.
“I saw him finally punishing a team for making a bad mistake,” Nicholas said of Ogbonna’s finish. “They had a bad clearance, he got it and slotted it home. It’s something that he could have four or five goals this year doing that same exact thing. He’s a player that we need to keep going, now that he’s gotten off the mark. Now that he’s got that goal, I expect he’ll have a few more.”
The team from the Port City started the second half on the front foot, winning a corner that resulted in a shot that was cleared off the line with just inches to spare. As the game grew more physical, the home side began to rebuff their visitors. Ogbonna suffered a kick in the face and was forced to leave the pitch. During the subsequent run of play, AFC Mobile conceded when a Gaffa cross from the byline was ushered home in the 53rd minute. With two-footed tackles flying, Gaffa put the match out of reach in the 73rd minute by splitting AFC Mobile’s offside trap and finishing past Gibson.
“Our team is young, so we’re getting a little out-experienced in the second half,” Nicholas said. Where our youthful energy could overcome their experience, we’re still letting it affect us. The officiating was questionable in some instances, but even with that, we weren’t good enough in the second half. We didn’t connect passes, we didn’t stay wide, we didn’t fight for the ball. When you don’t do that, you allow the referee to nullify the things you can do well.”
AFC Mobile falls to 0-0-3 on the season, and will travel to take on the defending league champions, CD Motagua of New Orleans on Sunday, June 4 at 7 p.m.