AFC Mobile traveled to Oak Grove, Mississippi to face a red hot Southern States SC team, taking their just their second loss in five games, and ending their 3 game unbeaten streak Wednesday evening.
The game opened in light rain which continued for most of the game, making the grass wet on top with the ball skipping on the surface even though conditions underfoot were near perfect.
Both the Azaleas and Stars proceeded to play progressive soccer. During the first 20 minutes the Oak Grove outfit had the better of possession as Mobile found it difficult to pass through the center of the Stars’ defensive lines.
The Stars produced a few long-range efforts that troubled Mobile goalkeeper Will Blake and eventually one of those efforts was rebounded off Blake, who after making a diving save, parried the ball into the center of the goal for a completely free Clayton Adams to score into open net. This would give the Stars the lead. The half ended with little incident as both the Stars and Azaleas toiled to create scoring chances.
The Stars started the second half on the front foot with several attacking excursions into Mobile territory coming up short. The visitors were struggling to impress in the opening minutes.
In the 54th minute, Stars head coach Carl Reynolds was ejected from the game on a second yellow card.
Mobile leveled the score at 1-1 within three minutes of the ejection. The Stars failed to cut out a right-wing cross, and Christopher Salamatou rose to head home at the far post.
The intensity of the game certainly rose as the Azaleas gained confidence and the crowd started to engage. Four minutes later, in almost identical fashion to the Mobile goal, Sheldon Green headed home Manu Ferriol’s assist to restore his team’s lead at 2-1. In the 67th minute the visitors found themselves behind 3-1 as a high ball from the left, off Green, evaded Blake and dropped behind him into the net.
The Stars never lost control of the game after that and continued to blunt the Mobile attacks while creating more chances of their own. It was inevitable that there would be several substitutions which only proceeded to break up the continuity of the game.
However, the Stars managed to help themselves to one more goal and put an exclamation point on the score when Green swept the ball home in the 82nd minute. For Green it was a second-half hat trick.
“I don’t think the scoreline fully reflects the full game,” said Mobile assistant coach Desmond Ibie. “We had opportunities, but the finishing was just slightly off. Southern States is one of the premier teams in our conference and credit to them for taking full advantage of the situation, particularly after their coach was sent off. All we can do now is look towards Jacksonville and keep ourselves in the playoff hunt.”
Southern States SC improved to 8-2-0 on a six-game winning streak while AFC Mobile dropped to 3-5-1. The Stars secured their grip on second place in the conference but need help if they are to overcome leaders Jacksonville Armada FC U-23. New Orleans, Pensacola FC, Mobile, and the Florida Roots are now competing for the two other playoff spots.