Category: Game Recap

AFC Mobile Beats Hattiesburg​ FC 3-0 to Earn First Win of the 2019 GCPL Season

HATTIESBURG, MS – Led by a clean sheet from goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben and a dominant midfield performance from Arad Lev-Ari, Sam Blackburn, and Tilman Schober, AFC Mobile took home a 3-0 victory on the road against Hattiesburg FC.

With a drastically different lineup from the one that faced Tallahassee SC in the opening match of the GCPL season, AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek started a brand new backline with only Vlad Margolin returning to the starting lineup.

“There were some injuries and some players not available for selection, which kind of forced my hand a little bit,” said Wieczorek, “but I think it’s going to round out into the team that we see going forward anyway.”

The goalscoring began when Lev-Ari split the Hattiesburg defense in the thirteenth minute with a curved, driven pass to Tilman Schober. Schober took a squaring touch before curling the ball into the far top corner to put the Azaleas up 1-0 early.

In the 43rd minute, Lev-Ari combined with Blackburn and Iba Ndaw to open up the penalty area for Chisom Ogbonna. Ogbonna was brought down in the 18-yard box and calmly finished the ensuing penalty with a powerful, low shot to send the Azaleas to halftime leading 2-0.

Lev-Ari, who primarily played in a central attacking role for the first time with Mobile, earned praises from Wieczorek after the game.

“Iba and Chisom again looked a handful going forward and Tilman as well,” Wieczorek said. “Arad’s actual shift on the field, the ground that he covered, his effort – if anyone stands out it’s him.”

Hattiesburg FC had its best opportunity of the night in the 67th minute. After a stint of possession, Hattiesburg spread out an otherwise solid and compact Mobile backline to take an open shot on frame, which caused Nascimben to go full-stretch horizontally and deny the home team a goal with his fingertips.

Another opportunity for Hattiesburg came in the 71st minute when a lofted cross played into the box was intercepted by Nascimben, who was then kicked by a Hattiesburg attacker. The trainer was brought on as Nascimben lay on the ground for nearly five minutes before he was cleared by the trainer and play resumed.

The AFC Mobile backline proved difficult to break down and when Hattiesburg was able to press in Mobile’s defensive third, Nascimben was able to come through for the team.

“We kept a clean sheet away from home with a back five that’s not played together – ever,” Wieczorek said.

Late in the match, Lev-Ari combined with AFC Mobile debutant Mikey Conneh to send Schober through. Schober chipped the keeper one-on-one, but the Hattiesburg defense was able to track back and clear the line.

The Azaleas kept coming and Ndaw continued his three-match goal scoring streak after high-pressing midfielder Blackburn forced a Hattiesburg turnover just outside of the box. Blackburn poked the ball to Lev-Ari, who played Ndaw into a one-on-one situation with the Hattiesburg goalkeeper. Ndaw calmly finished to give Mobile a commanding 3-0 lead and, ultimately, the win.

“It was a hard game,” said Lev-Ari. “They are a quality team. We knew we wanted to get points from this game. The original plan was to see what we could do, what our ability is. But we outperformed. We did a really good job, got three points, and it is going to be huge going forward into the season.”

AFC Mobile will return home next week against their oldest rivals, Port City FC, in the first leg of the 2019 Forgotten Coast Cup. The match will kick off at 7 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. Tickets are $10, and all kids 12 and under will be admitted free. This match is also our Military Appreciation Night where veterans and active duty military personnel will get in free with a valid ID.

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AFC Mobile Beats Baton Rouge 7-2 In Final Preseason Test

Behind four goals from Iba Ndaw, AFC Mobile rolled over Baton Rouge United 7-2 in their final preseason test before the 2019 Gulf Coast Premier League campaign.

“Iba’s job is to bounce to the ball in the middle third of the field, and then get in the box and put it in the back of the net, and today he did exactly that,” said AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek.

Ndaw opened the scoring in the seventh minute with an assist from his former Spring Hill College teammate, club vice captain Tilman Schober.

“I have great chemistry with Tilman. We’ve played together in a lot of games, and he understands me well, and I understand him. I’ve always enjoyed playing with him because he’s an unselfish player and he always knows where to find me,” Ndaw said. “We’re going to do a lot of good things together this year, and I’m looking forward to it.”

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Tillman Schober and Iba Ndaw celebrate after a goal. Photo: Seth Laubinger

Ndaw netted his second in the 21st minute after getting on the end of a ball from Sam Blackburn, and he completed his hat trick by scoring in the 28th minute.

“It’s always a fun time playing in front of the home crowd, and after our first two preseason games we owed it to them to turn up today,” Ndaw said.

Baton Rouge scored an own goal in the 34th minute. Just three minutes later, Blackburn scored his first career goal for AFC Mobile with an assist from Chisom Ogbonna. The Azaleas took a 6-0 lead into the half after Ndaw scored his fourth and final goal of the match.

“I think he could’ve scored more goals,” Wieczorek said. “That’s been the big thing with Iba. He is capable of so much, and we just need to continue to drive that out of him.”

The match quieted down after a mass substitution for the Azaleas to start the second half. Baton Rouge United got on the board in the 83rd minute. However, the Azaleas responded just three minutes later with a goal from the club’s all-time leading goalscorer Chisom Ogbonna. Baton Rouge pulled one more back in the 90th minute and the match finished 7-2 in favor of the home team.

“In the second half, although we did concede two, we had a lot of the ball which shows we’re good in possession,” Wieczorek said. “Yes, some negatives to concede, especially when we’re well on top like that, gives us some things that we can improve on going into our first game.”

AFC Mobile will kick off the 2019 Gulf Coast Premier League season at home next week against newcomers Tallahassee Soccer Club. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. Tickets are $10, and all kids 12 and under will be admitted free. Season tickets are on sale for $40 and can be purchased here.

AFC Mobile Falls to Pool Boys 2-0

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.”

Mobile Falls 3-1 In First Leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup

Another wild chapter of the Forgotten Coast Cup was written on Wednesday night when AFC Mobile travel to Herbert Wilson Stadium in Gulfport, Mississippi to take on the rebranded Port City FC (formerly Biloxi City FC.) This match was originally scheduled to take place on Memorial Day weekend, but it was postponed due to the possibility of inclement weather. The Azaleas held a 1-0 lead for the majority of the game before ultimately falling to the Sounders 3-1.

The Azaleas were coming into the game after an incredible 4-3 comeback victory over Pensacola FC and were looking to claim one of two games in hand over the rest of their Eastern Conference opponents. 

Mobile burst out of the gate, dominating the early stages of the match. The Azaleas first chance came after Brantton “Sunshine” Greene charged his way through the pitch and passed the ball to Clairy Kengeye. Kengeye found Chisom Ogbonna who sent his shot wide. The Sounders retaliated minutes later but Mobile’s keeper easily saved Ethan Loftin’s shot. The Azaleas had another chance in the 15th minute when Kengeye boomed down the right wing and found a charging Chisom Ogbonna, who was flagged offside. 

However, it wouldn’t be long before Ogbonna found the score sheet. In the 20th minute Sherman Winchester sent the ball to Martin Fiemawhle who pulled the ball back and sent it across the box to Ogbonna who fired home the opening goal against Port City keeper Grant Adam. 

The Sounders attacked the Mobile defense for the next fifteen minutes. They thought they had their equalizer in the 35th minute after Hall’s shot dribbled its way into the back of the net after multiple deflections in the box. However, the goal was ruled offside and Mobile kept their 1-0 lead as both teams headed into the half. 

“To be honest with you from what I understand, this past weekend they rested several of their starters. We basically had the same group going and I think in the second half their energy raised up where we kind of got tired,” AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said. “We weren’t playing too terribly but we were absorbing a lot of pressure and they were playing very direct…and I think we got tired from constantly chasing and them hitting long balls.” 

Port City started the second half as the stronger side, but the first clearcut chance of the half came when Kengeye and Fiemawhle beautifully worked the ball back and forth between the two of them nearly resulting in a Kengeye shot. Port City nearly pulled a goal back when Loftin juked his way through the box and was brought down. The home fans clamored for a penalty, but it was not given.

In the 63rd minute, Port City forward Michael Cooper was played in behind the Mobile defense by Jordan Hall, but Hall’s shot was saved by Gibson. 

Port City equalized in the 72nd minute after Hall worked his way into the box and smashed a shot home past Gibson. In true Forgotten Coast Cup fashion, controversy erupted after Port City defender Joe Elliot dropped his shorts and “mooned” the Causeway Rebellion moments after the equalizing goal. 

 The Sounders took the lead in the 86th minute after Steven Gallagher found Austin Miller who brought the ball down Cavan Doherty who slotted it home. 

Late in the game, Mobile was awarded a free kick. While setting up for the kick, both teams participated in a pushing match which came to a head when Ogbonna shoved a Port City player in the neck.  Ogbonna was shown a straight red for violent conduct and will be suspended for at least one match. 

“Once again, I feel like it’s a weekly thing talking about referees and decisions and how they play in the league.  I don’t know if it was necessarily the wrong call; like I said I couldn’t see it very well, but obviously at that point the game had gotten out of hand again so it’s just one of those things, something was bound to happen. We got caught with some retaliation and we ended up with the red card. 

The Azaleas would nearly equalize late into stoppage time. Keeper Elijah Gibson ran up to join the Mobile attack in the box. Fiemawhle sent a free-kick towards goal and Mobile players got a touch on the ball but it bounced around in the box, ultimately not being able to find the back of the net. The Sounders got out on the break and Joao Victor slotted the ball home into the empty net to seal a 3-1 win for Port City.

The Azaleas will return to The Lip this Saturday night to face GCPL cross-conference opponent Alexandria FC. Kickoff for that game is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23rd at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are just $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

AFC Mobile Scores Three Goals In Three Minutes To Beat Pensacola FC

PENSACOLA–AFC Mobile scored four unanswered goals, including an improbable three within three minutes late in the game, to snatch three points from Pensacola FC in a 4-3 road win on Saturday night. 

“I’m so proud of the guys and their fight. To be down 3-0, after making some huge errors to give up those three goals, but all the credit to the guys,” coach Nate Nicholas said. “They fought hard [and] came back with some big goals by some big players.” 

The first half was a cagey affair with few real chances to challenge either keeper. Barrett Mills gave Pensacola the lead in the 43rd minute. Pensacola doubled its tally minutes later after Mobile’s Barou Ndaw came off his line in an attempt to clear the ball, but the ball fell straight to Pensacola’s Kameron Bethell who floated it into the empty net. Despite a relatively even first half, AFC Mobile went in to halftime trailing 2-0. 

Minutes after the start of the second half, Pensacola’s Gavin Gillies was able to beat the Mobile defense on a breakaway. His shot was fired toward Ndaw, who made contact but  was not able to hold on to the ball. Gillies then slotted home the rebound to give the home side a 3-0 lead. 

The Azaleas pulled their first goal back when Sherman Winchester boomed down the right-hand side of the pitch and sent the ball into Chisom Ogbonna. Ogbonna’s shot was deflected, but Erik Aispuro picked it up and sent it through the Pensacola keeper’s legs to bring the score to 3-1. 

Mobile looked listless for much of the second half with chances coming not at all, then all at once. 

The Azaleas’ comeback started in the 84th minute after Martin Fiemawhle headed in a ball chipped in by Ogbonna from the left wing to make the score 3-2.

Off the restart, Clairy Kengeye ran at the Pensacola defense and slotted the equalizer past the Pensacola keeper in the 85th.

“After I missed one at the goals I felt like I really needed to redeem myself and I felt like it was a good time to get one more since the team was hyped,” Kengeye said.  

The winner was scored by Ogbonna, Mobile’s leading goal-scorer just one minute after Kengeye’s goal. Ogbonna was played in by Aispuro on the left wing, cut into the box and fired a curling shot into the back of the net to give the Azaleas the 4-3 win, sending his goalkeeper, bench, coach and the busful of onlooking AFC Mobile fans into a frenzy.

“We had all the momentum completely shifted to our side,” Nicholas said. “It just kind of snowballed; it was one after another after another… After we scored the fourth, we could have scored a fifth right after,” Nicholas said. “It was like there was one team playing the last ten minutes, and it was us.”

A sizable contingent of Mobile fans made the trip east on I-10 and turned Ashton Brosnaham into their temporary home with celebrations lasting long after the lights went out. 

“I want to thank the fans,” said Nicholas. “They are so awesome. We were 3-0 down and they kept pushing us. What a great gift to have awesome fans like them. We appreciate everything they do.”

AFC Mobile’s next match is Wednesday, June 20th against Port City FC in Gulfport, Mississippi. This first leg of the 2018 Forgotten Coast Cup is a makeup date for the originally scheduled match that was postponed due to weather.  The Azaleas will return to The Lip this Saturday night to face GCPL out-of-conference opponent Alexandria FC. Kickoff for that game is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23rd at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are just $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

AFC Mobile Breaks GCPL Attendance Record in 2-0 Loss to Gulf Coast Rangers FC

AFC Mobile broke its own Gulf Coast Premier League attendance record Saturday night as a crowd of 1,465 watched the Azaleas suffer a narrow loss to Gulf Coast Rangers FC 2-0. The atmosphere for the first-ever matchup between local rivals featured a flyover by the US Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in a Search and Rescue MH-65 Dolphin helicopter on the club’s second ever Military Appreciation Night. The visitors from across the Bay were also welcomed by 10 of Mobile’s world-famous Azalea Trail Maids. 

AFC Mobile now owns the top eight spots in the GCPL record books — one for each home league match in the club’s history.

“To our fans, y’all were great. We want to apologize for not getting the victory tonight, but I thought you would like the performance the guys put in,” AFC Mobile coach Nate Nicholas said. “We loved every second of having you guys here, we want to keep these numbers going up and up and up. We have a couple more home games and we need your support.” 

The Azaleas had a bright start to the game. AFC Mobile’s leading goalscorer Chisom Obgonna ripped a shot from outside of the box that went wide left of the goal. Minutes later the ball was played back to Ogbonna in the box, but he was bogged down by the Ranger defense. The ball found its way to Erik Aispuro outside of the box, who tried to play it back to Ogbonna, but his pass floated back into the hands of Rangers keeper Xavier Audergon. 

Mobile nearly took the lead in the 17th minute after a David Valverde free kick found Aispuro who headed the ball onto a streaking Matt Merrill, but Merrill’s left-footed shot was pushed wide by Audergon. 

The first half was an even affair with good chances for both sides. In the 27th minute, Mobile keeper Elijah Gibson played the ball out of his box and was picked up by the Rangers’ Yan Livenu whose shot sailed over the crossbar. 

In the 33rd minute, Valverde was taken down by a crunching tackle after a nice piece of footwork. He was replaced by Greg Hosford, who started for AFC Mobile’s reserve team in their 3-0 win over the Rangers reserves in midweek. 

The Rangers’ best chances came toward the end of the first half. In the 43rd minute, former AFC Mobile player Moses Muhubao’s shot was saved by Gibson. Gibson came up with another big save one minute later off of the ensuing corner. But the tide turned in first-half stoppage time when defender Matthew Jakubik floated in a header over Gibson off of a Rangers free kick. The Azaleas went into halftime trailing Rangers 1-0. 

“I think that goal was a momentum killer. It was an even game,” Nicholas said. “I don’t know that one team deserved to be ahead of the other at the time. But the guy went in unmarked but we had a little confusion in the back post. But to be honest with you he wasn’t even shooting the ball; he was heading it across and Elijah just couldn’t get to it.”

Rangers would start the second half on the front foot. Rangers’ Andrew McInnis sent a shot just wide after tight pressure from Brantton “Sunshine” Greene. 

In the 60th minute, Rangers’ Alex Wichmann was shown a yellow card. Seconds later, Audergon came up big with another great save off of a header on an AFC Mobile free kick. 

Two more yellow cards were shown in the 74th and 76th minutes to Rangers’ Sergi Cebrian and Mobile’s Guillermo Lumbreras, Jr. 

The record crowd thought the Azaleas had equalized in the 85th minute after Abdal Almutairi pressured Audergon to win the ball. Audergon appeared to lose his footing after initially avoiding Almutairi’s approach, and Almutairi took advantage, tracking back to the loose ball and slotting it home into the open net while Audergon lay on the ground. Two minutes later, after Mobile had finished celebrating and had set up to resume play from the center circle, Audergon remained down and the official reversed his initial award of the goal, claiming Almutairi had fouled Audergon. Audergon would finish the game, including a total of 8 minutes of stoppage time, in goal for the Rangers. 

“I didn’t argue too much that it got called back,” Nicholas said.  “I just thought it was a little wishy-washy for [the official] to let everybody come back and celebrate and he’s already running back to midfield and he thinks about it…and their goalkeeper lays on the ground. I thought, for him, it was a pretty poor performance. If that’s a foul then you’re literally right there. He was within 15 yards of the play. If it’s a foul he should’ve called it a lot earlier, rather than let both teams get back in midfield and set up for it. That’s just my view. I thought it was poorly done.” 

The Rangers doubled their tally late in stoppage time after Gibson pushed up into the midfield on an AFC Mobile corner. Former AFC Mobile captain Nathan Gillespie got behind the forward-playing Mobile keeper on a counter-attack and slotted home a garbage-time goal to give the visitors a 2-0 win. The loss leaves AFC Mobile in fourth place, but the Azaleas remain third in points per game, having two games in hand on Pensacola FC and Gulf Coast Rangers. 

Next week, AFC Mobile will travel to Pensacola to take on GCPL Eastern Conference leaders Pensacola FC. Kickoff is at 7 pm at Ashton Brosnaham Stadium. 

The Azaleas will return to The Lip in two weeks to face GCPL out-of-conference opponent Alexandria FC. Kickoff is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23rd at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

Ogbonna Nets Second Hat Trick In 4-1 Win Over Real United FC

Chisom Ogbonna scored three as AFC Mobile dominated Moss Point, Mississippi’s Real United FC in a 4-1 win on Saturday. A crowd of just over 900 witnessed Ogbonna net his second hat trick in as many games for the Azaleas. 

“Anytime you can have someone score like that, it really takes the pressure off of you. He just moves off the ball really well, gets into good spaces and when he gets in front of goal he’s a really good finisher,” AFC Mobile manager Nate Nicholas said.

Mobile dominated possession in the early minutes of the game, but was unable to present a real challenge to Real United’s veteran keeper Todd Langlinaus. However, the home team attack of Ogbonna, Clairy Kengeye, Abdal Almutairi and Erik Aispuro controlled possession and kept the ball in their attacking third for much of the match.

Real United was called for a handball in the box in the 33rd minute. Ogbonna stepped up and slotted home the penalty, but it was called back by the referee, who signaled encroachment into the penalty box by an AFC Mobile player. Ogbonna coolly slotted the second attempt home as well, giving the home team a 1-0 lead.

The Nigerian national doubled his tally two minutes into first-half stoppage time. Ogbonna played the ball to Tomas Lopez who threaded the ball between two Riverhawk defenders to the feet of Greg Hosford. Hosford was knocked down by Real United’s TJ Gines, but Ogbonna followed the ball into the box and scored the goal that gave the Azaleas a 2-0 lead at the half. 

Ogbonna completed his hat trick soon after the start of the second half. Jackson Barber won the ball on a crushing tackle to a Riverhawks player then played the ball down the wing to KC Espoir. Espoir placed a cross across the box to Ogbonna who played the ball off his chest to the ground and fired it into the top left corner of the net. 

“We’ve kept working hard since the last game; we’ve been working hard in training and this season is going to be much better then last season,” said Ogbonna . 

Bradford Clark pulled a goal back for Real United after sneaking between the Mobile center backs and getting on the end of a great ball played from just outside the box to make the score 3-1, the lone goal for the visitors.

Tempers flared late in the match as Real United FC stared down the barrel of its third consecutive defeat. After losing the ball in the 80th minute, Mobile’s Greg Hosford went in with a strong tackle on Moss Point’s Thomas Keen. Keen confronted a still-grounded Hosford until Mobile’s Martin Fiemawhle rushed in and shoved him away. Fiemawhle, Hosford and Keen were separated by other players and the match officials. Hosford was given a yellow card for the original challenge. No caution was issued to Keen, who had received an earlier yellow card for unsporting behavior.

The Azaleas scored their fourth and final goal in the 91st minute after Sherman Winchester jumped in front of a free kick to win the ball, breezed through the defense, and slid the ball past the keeper into the far left corner.

AFC Mobile will return to The Lip next weekend to face GCPL newcomers Gulf Coast Rangers FC from Foley, Alabama, in the first ever GCPL Battle of Mobile Bay.  Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 9th at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free. Next Saturday’s game will also be Military Appreciation Night.  All veterans and active duty military personnel will be admitted free of charge. 

AFC Mobile Gets First Win of GCPL Season Against Cajun SC

Chisom Ogbonna netted the first hat trick in AFC Mobile history to lead the Azaleas to a 3-1 win over Cajun Soccer Club of Lafayette, Louisiana.

We knew after losing our first home game we had to pick up some points somewhere, so this was a big win for us to pick up those three points we lost at home, AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said. “Hopefully from here on out we’ll keep on accumulating points because we want to be in one of those playoff spots.”

The Azaleas opened the game with an early chance from Erik Aispuro. Ogbonna played the ball to Aispuro on the right wing, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. The pair would link up for the game’s first goal. Aispuro played the ball into Ogbonna who scored his first goal of the night from close range.

Ten minutes later, Ogbonna doubled his tally. After winning a crushing tackle in the midfield, Iba Ndaw boomed down the left flank and played the ball across the face off goal that was cooley slotted home by the leading goal scorer in club history.

Mobile’s 2-0 lead would not last for long. In the 28th minute, center-back Guillermo Lumbreras, Jr. brought down a Cajun player just outside of the penalty box. Lumbreras was shown a yellow card, the first of six for the Azaleas on the night. A minute later a Cajun free kick ricocheted off the crossbar. Mobile was unable to clear the lose ball and Cajun’s Berkley Laviere put the ball in the back of the net for the home team, bringing the score to 2-1.

Despite conseding that lone goal, Nicholas said the Azaleas did a much better job of defending this week after letting in four goals against Pensacola FC last weekend in Mobile.

We still need to work on it. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a defensive problem, it’s kind of a team defending thing we need to work on. Tracking runners from the midfield and other places a little bit quicker,” Nicholas said. “But we did give up a few chances…and tonight we’re lucky that Cajun didn’t finish all the chances they had, but neither did we.

Late in the first half Lumbreras took a hard knock and was replaced by Duck Vu, who made his AFC Mobile debut. Last season Vu was an Honorable Mention All-Conference player for Biloxi City FC (now rebranded as Port City FC).

Both teams would have one more solid chance before the end of the first half. A shot from Iba Ndaw was parried out for an AFC Mobile corner, but the ball was easily handled by Cajun.

In stoppage time, KC Espoir was shown yellow outside the box. Cajun’s rocket of a free kick rattled off the crossbar and was cleared by Iba Ndaw.

Ogbonna nearly completed his hat trick early in the second half, but his shot went just wide of the net.

Chisom Ogbonna goes up for the ball in AFC Mobile’s 3-1 win over Cajun Soccer Club on Saturday May 19, 2018.

Cajun almost equalized in the 64th minute when a nice ball found its way through the Mobile backline and was collected by keeper Barou Ndaw. Saturday’s match marked the first time that brothers Barou and Iba Ndaw shared the pitch in an AFC Mobile match.

Ogbonna did complete his hat trick in the 84th minute to kill off the game. Ogbonna finished a great ball from another player making his AFC Mobile debut, Donte Oliver. Oliver was an All-Eastern Conference player for Biloxi City FC last season.

AFC Mobile will travel to Gulfport, Mississippi, to take on Port City FC in the first leg of the “Forgotten Coast Cup.Kickoff is May 26th at 7 p.m. at Herbert Wilson Stadium. The Azaleas will once again be reserving a bus for supporters wishing to make the trip. Don’t miss the match that Non League America calls “The Realest Rivalry in American Soccer. For more details on how you can ride the fan bus, visit www.afcmobile.net.

AFC Mobile will return to The Lip in two weeks to take on GCPL newcomers Real United FC Riverhawks. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 2 at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are only $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

AFC Mobile’s preseason ends with 2-1 nail-biter loss to NPSL’s New Orleans Jesters

AFC Mobile was denied a historic upset after giving up a late goal to the New Orleans Jesters on Saturday night in Mobile. The Jesters came back from down a goal to beat the Azaleas 2-1 in front of over 650 fans in the final preseason game before beginning the 2018 Gulf Coast Premier League campaign.

The Jesters came to Mobile in preparation for their 2018 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) season and their US Open Cup match this week. Last season the Jesters went unbeaten in the NPSL’s Southeastern Conference. The game was the first time the Azaleas welcomed NPSL opposition to Mobile

“They are a level above us, but I thought we showed pretty well. We’re still bringing in a couple players that have trained with us once or twice.” said AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas. “I was very happy with what I saw. Obviously we would have loved the tie or the win, but I couldn’t ask for more from the guys. They gave everything on the field.”

The Jesters asserted their dominance early in the match with a few chances early on. In the 9th minute, Jesters forward Mason Walsh beat the Azalea defense, but his shot was saved by keeper Elijah Gibson. It would be the first of six saves in the first half for Gibson.

Despite ceding most of possession to New Orleans during the opening minutes of the match, the home team found the back of the net first after a Jesters own goal. Mobile’s Matt Merrill played a long ball from midfield to forward Iba Ndaw. The ball did not find Ndaw’s feet because it was deflected by a Jesters defender, but it continued travelling toward the Jesters’ goal. New Orleans keeper Chad Collins backtracked and made a sliding attempt to clear the ball away, but it rolled over the goal line before he could do so, and AFC Mobile took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.

After falling behind, the Jesters continued to attack the Mobile goal. In the 27th minute, a long range effort from the Jesters was punched out of bounds by Gibson leading to a corner kick. The Jesters sent the corner in and Gibson saved another Jesters shot. After a scramble in front of the goal, the ball was cleared off the goal line by defender Sherman Winchester. Winchester had one of the brightest performances for the Azaleas in a night full of stellar play.

The Jesters continued to push for an equalizer for the remainder of the first half. Ollie Roberts nearly equalized in the 34th minute, and the Jesters almost pulled one back during first half stoppage time. Despite the pressure from New Orleans, an incredible performance from Gibson in goal and rock solid defending from the Mobile backline of Winchester, Brantton Greene, Markos Mallis, and Spring Hill College’s Pablo Sanjuán Delgado was enough to maintain the one-goal lead heading into the half.

“I feel we did well. It was a hard game…starting with this team (the Jesters) is good for us. We did a lot of good things,” said Delgado after his debut game for AFC Mobile.

At the start of the second half, Nicholas replaced Gibson with keeper Barou Ndaw. Despite giving up two goals in the second half, Ndaw’s performance in goal rivaled Gibson’s first half performance as he finished with seven saves on the night.

The Jesters had a few chances in the first fifteen minutes of the second half before Igor Siscov collected a lose ball in the box to level the score.

Mobile’s best chance to regain the lead happened in the 75th minute after Chisom Ogbonna found his way behind the New Orleans defense, but the ball was collected by the Jesters’ keeper. The keeper punted the ball into midfield to the feet of Mobile’s David Valverde who fired for goal from 30 yards out, but his shot was saved. Valverde, a Davidson High School alumnus, former UAB Blazer, and former Birmingham Hammer, had an excellent game in the midfield in his debut for his hometown team.

“It’s really good to come back home and play with some players I used to play with. The atmosphere is great. I knew from the start there was gonna be a lot of people here, and I was very excited to come and play here,” Valverde said.

The Jesters took the lead in the 86th minute after a great save from Barou Ndaw fell to the center of the box and was fired in by Luke LaVanway. Mobile attempted to tie in the dying minutes of the game, but could not find the equalizer.

AFC Mobile will return to The Lip next week to take on Pensacola FC (formerly the Gulf Coast Texans) to open the 2018 GCPL season. Kickoff is Saturday, May 12th at 7:00 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are only $5 and kids 12 and under are admitted free. Saturday’s game is also Teacher Appreciation Night at The Lip, and all teachers will be admitted free of charge. AFC Mobile is also proud to welcome Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson to perform the ceremonial pregame coin flip. Come show your appreciation for Commissioner Hudson for her tireless advocacy for the soccer community in Mobile and for making the Mobile County Soccer Complex project a reality.

AFC Mobile – Man of the Match vs Northshore United FC (4/28)

AFC Mobile struck twice in the first half in order to hold off Northshore United for their first win at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. On a night with several notable debuts for Mobile, here are the nominees for the Man of the Match.

22 – Ibrahima Ndaw – FWD

Ibrahima Ndaw (photo courtesy of Michael Shartava)

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and what an impression Iba Ndaw made for the home fans in Mobile. Ndaw combined well throughout the game with Chisom Ogbonna before a brilliant free kick gave him his first goal in Mobile colors in the 17th minute. He struck for the game-winning goal in the 28th minute with his left foot. It was a spectacular debut for the 6’5” Spring Hill College alumnus.

16 – Markos Mallis – DF

Markos Mallis (photo courtesy of Michael Shartava)

Shifting from left back to centerback, Mallis found himself involved less in the attack than he had been last year, but defensively he was strong dealing with a quick NUFC attack.

11 – Martin Fiemawhle – MF

Martin Fiemawhle (photo courtesy of Michael Shartava)

Fiemawhle’s contributions cannot be measured on the stats sheet. While he did have a fantastic set piece in the second half, the calmness that he brought to the pitch was immeasurable. The team just looked better in both the attack and defense when he set foot on the field.

9 – Erik Aispuro Vidaña –  MF

Erik Aispuro Vindaña (photo courtesy of Seth Laubinger)

Speaking of debut performances, the Robertsdale High School product proved to be crafty on the right side of the midfield. Combining well with Ogbonna and Sherman Winchester in the attack, Aispuro truly made his mark.

Who is your Man of the Match? Vote in the poll below or write your own nominee in the comment section.

AFC Mobile’s last preseason friendly at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex is on Saturday, May 5th against the National Premier Soccer League’s New Orleans Jesters. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. All tickets are only $5.00 and, as always, kids 12 and under are admitted with no charge. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information.