AFC Mobile’s still has hopes to qualify for the GCPL Cup Playoffs, but a 2-0 loss to Alexandria Pool Boys FC has left almost no room for error as the Mobilians head down the final stretch of the season.
Despite having more opportunities and possession, AFC Mobile was not able to grab any points at home leaving them 2 points behind Pensacola FC and Gulf Coast Rangers for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
The match began promisingly in 8th minute when Roman Causse flicked Brantton Greene, making his debut as a center forward, into the penalty area. Greene’s shot was saved by Alexandria goalkeeper Jason Fritz, who ended up having a spectacular match in net for the Pool Boys.
Mobile’s attack did not stop piling on chances either. In the 12th minute, Sherman Winchester played David Valverde into open space where the Costa Rican international took a shot that was parried wide by Fritz. The ensuing corner kick led to a Matt Merrill header to the far post that beat Fritz, but ultimately was volleyed off the line by Alexandria’s Ian Ragsdale.
A bit of combination work between Valverde, Greene, and Winchester in the 22nd minute, sent Greene through for a shot that was plucked out of the air by Fritz keeping the match on equal footing.
In the 42nd minute, Alexandria’s Nicolas Mboungou lost the ball to Mobile’s Dawson Jellenc, but Mboungou’s immediately pressured Jellenc, won the ball back, and played a stunningly smooth pass to a streaking Zach Clear, who chipped his shot over Barou Ndaw to place the visitors on the front foot with a 1-0 lead.
“We had a couple chances at the beginning that if we put away I think the game goes a lot different,” said head coach Nate Nicholas, “but we didn’t finish those and it came to bite us in the butt later on.”
The second half started slowly with the game bogged down in the midfield and heat definitely impacting both teams with multiple players from both sides cramping up. However, the trailing Azaleas kept taking the opportunities given, but coming up against a keeper in fantastic form.
Valverde took another go at goal in the 57th minute sending it into the cross bar. A good piece of individual by Clairy Kengeye sent Fritz reeling from near to far post fully outstretched to make what may have been his most spectacular save of the game. Kengeye again was sprung free by Winchester down the right wing in the 81st only to have his shot rejected once more by Fritz.
Then in the 88th minute, Alexandria was awarded a free kick, which was played by Martin Iddon onto the head of an unmarked Brett Judd giving Alexandria a 2-0 lead and ultimately the win.
This result leaves Mobile needing to collect points in their three remaining matches according to coach Nicholas. “Basically, I told the boys, every game from here on out is a playoff game. Win and you’re in it…lose and you’re out…They know they could’ve played better [tonight]. There is not a person in that locker room that thought they did a great job tonight, me included.”