AFC Mobile overcame a slow start and pulled off a win in the first leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup against the reigning Gulf Coast Premier League champions Port City FC.
“I think fans won us this game. They were awesome the entire match. They pushed us,” said AFC Mobile midfielder Arad Lev-Ari. “It looked like we were about to lose in the first half. They had some really good chances. But we always believed in ourselves because the fans believed in us.”
The Sounders started the match strong, but the Azaleas were able to keep the score level behind an excellent goalkeeping performance from Dominic Nascimben.
The first chance for the home team came in the 15th minute when the ball found its way to a charging Mikey Conneh. Grant Adam, Port City’s keeper, came off his line to collect the ball from Conneh, but Conneh laid the ball off to Lev-Ari in the middle of the box. Despite Adam being out of position, Lev-Ari’s shot was cleared off the line by Port City’s Caleb Counselman.
Conneh continued to make his presence known as, minutes later, he sent the ball across the face of goal, but there was no one there to get on the end of it. The ball ultimately made its way back to the feet of captain Tilman Schober, who took a shot that went just left of the goal.
Iba Ndaw had a big chance in the 27th minute after Lev-Ari played the ball into the box. After taking an odd bounce, Port City’s Joe Guinchard attempted to head it back to their keeper, but the ball fell to a charging Ndaw whose shot from point-blank range was saved by Adam.
At the half-hour mark, AFC Mobile’s all-time leading goalscorer Chisom Ogbonna entered the game and made an immediate impact.
“I left Chisom on the bench at the start of the game hoping that I could bring him in and he could really energize it, and he did just that,” said AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek. “He played the role very effectively and was a very important part of our performance.”
The Azaleas opened the scoring just before halftime when Ndaw slotted the ball to a charging Schober who powered it home to give the Azaleas a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
The Azaleas doubled their lead in the 52nd minute when Ndaw darted down the left wing. He played a low rolling ball into the box to a trailing Andrew Rhoda, but the ball was sent into the net by Port City’s Steven Gallagher who was attempting to clear it, but ended up scoring an own goal and giving AFC Mobile a 2-0 lead.
The home team scored its final goal in the 59th minute when Eddie Dakwa played a deep ball from midfield to Lev-Ari who boomed down the right-hand side of the pitch, took on the Port City defense, and scored to put the Azaleas up 3-0.
Port City got a goal back in the 80th minute when Mobile’s Ben Fredrickson was shown yellow for bringing down a Port City attacker in the box. The Sounders’ Jordan Hall stepped up to the spot and scored the final goal of the match, giving the Azaleas a 3-1 victory.
This week, AFC Mobile will travel east on I-10 to take on Pensacola FC. The match kicks off at 7 p.m. at Ashton Brosnaham Stadium in Pensacola, Florida. AFC Mobile is organizing a fan bus for our supporters. Space on the bus is limited. Click here for details.