Smiles and good times were in abundance at Archbishop Lipscomb Stadium as AFC Mobile opened up its 2018 defense of The Lip with a 2-1 defeat of Covington, Louisiana’s Northshore United FC in preseason friendly action.
Coach Nate Nicholas fielded a slightly depleted side as several anticipated starters are not scheduled to see action until next week’s visit by the NPSL South Region Conference’s New Orleans Jesters in the final match before the start of the 2018 GCPL season.
The opening minutes of the match had the roughly even, tentative start that one would expect of two sides still working on their chemistry, but it did not take long for AFC Mobile Forward Iba Ndaw to find a breaking Chisom Ogbonna in the fourth minute for the first of what would be many combinations and close scoring opportunities.
By the tenth minute, the Azaleas started to gain confidence and momentum in their possession, culminating in an insightful pass from Martin Fiemawhle to a breaking Ogbonna, who teamed with Ndaw to work through the Northshore defense before being taken down 24 yards from goal. On the ensuing free kick, Iba Ndaw uncorked a blistering, curling shot that evaded the outstretched arms of the keeper and smacked into the back of the net to give Mobile a 16th minute 1-0 lead.
Ndaw would be rewarded again when Matt Merrill lofted a 40 yard cross-field pass to a streaking Brantton Greene, whose squaring pass found Ndaw at the top of the penalty area. Ndaw circled to create space and fizzed a low shot with his weaker foot, which bounced off the far post and across the line to give the Senegalese native his second goal of the match.
After securing the lead, Coach Nicholas took advantage of the unlimited substitutions agreed upon for the friendly match to experiment with different options and player combinations. Northshore continued to work on shutting down AFC Mobile’s attack and began to test the depth of their defense with increasingly consistent possession that persisted until halftime.
The second half saw a determined Northshore side continue to mount pressure, which was rewarded in the 47th minute when United standout Salim Yillah slipped free of his marking and headed home a corner kick to cut the margin in half. Northshore continued to apply pressure to get an equalizer against a Mobile side that was focusing on defending their lead. The Azaleas’ line held strong until the 61st minute, when a cutting through ball led to a Northshore attacker alone against the keeper. The shot was well taken and was headed toward the top corner of the net, but an acrobatic effort from Mobile keeper Elijah Gibson deflected the ball to preserve AFC Mobile’s lead. AFC Mobile held on to win its first home match 2-1 in front of an ecstatic preseason crowd of 765.
AFC Mobile’s next match is against the New Orleans Jesters on Saturday, May 5th at 7:00 pm at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are only $5 and kids 12 and under get in free. You will be able to finish off your Cinco de Mayo properly with the El Milagro Taqueria Y Pupuseria food truck serving tacos inside the stadium! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat!