Tag: Non League America

AFC Mobile plays to scoreless draw in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE – Missing three starters and with another limited by injury, AFC Mobile kept a clean sheet on the road for the second time this season on Saturday, playing Tallahassee S.C to a 0-0 draw in the Floridian capital. The draw results in a three-way tie on points atop the Gulf Coast Premier League’s Eastern Conference, with the Gulf Coast Rangers holding the head-to head-tiebreakers against the Azaleas and the Battle Lions. 

“We’ve come here with a plan. The plan was to make sure we didn’t concede today. We’ve reached that task,” said AFC Mobile goalkeeper Dominic Nascimben. “And, at minimum, coach Steve [Wieczorek] gave us the task of making sure we had at least a tie. So we’ve hit both tasks.”

AFC Mobile made its longest road trip of the season without defender Andrew Rhoda, midfielder Arad Lev-Ari and leading goalscorer Iba Ndaw, all of whom were resting with minor injuries. Those absences led to a first-team debut for defender Salia Carr and the return of long-time Mobilian Clairy Kengeye. Midfielder and frequent captain Tilman Schober, nursing a knock as well, started the match on the bench for the first time this season.

The game opened with few chances for either side. Tallahassee’s first big chance came in the 19th minute after a Mobile giveaway. However, Nascimben came up with the first of several big saves in the game. Tallahassee nearly took the lead in the 34th minute, but its shot bounced off the far post, resulting in a scramble in the box, ultimately cleared by the Mobile defense. 

The teams entered halftime deadlocked at 0-0. Mobile’s first chance of the second half came in the 50th minute after Tilman Schober played a ball to Chisom Ogbonna, whose shot sailed over the crossbar. The home team pinned the Azaleas back early on in the second half, dominating possession. However, near the 60th minute mark, Mobile was able to shift the play into their attacking third. The Azaleas were awarded a free kick in the 65th minute. Mikey Conneh stepped up to take the kick, but his shot was rocketed into the hands of Tallahassee’s keeper. 

In the 70th minute, Tallahassee was given a free kick of their own. Their shot was tipped just over the bar by Nascimben. Mobile cleared the ensuing corner and then the subsequent throw-in. 

Mobile’s best chance of the match came in the 82nd minute when Clairy Kengeye’s powerful, low-rolling effort was collected by the Tallahassee keeper. The Azaleas would have one last in chance in the 93rd minute when Erik Aispuro’s shot was sent out for a corner that was easily handled by the Battle Lions. Shortly after, the full-time whistle blew with the match ending in a 0-0 draw. 

“I think the boys played their socks off today. They’re happy with the result. They put the effort in today…and we just kept grinding it out and got the result. I can’t fault anyone today. All the boys are solid in the back. So I’m really proud of the lads in front of me.” Nascimben said. 

Next up for the Azaleas is a home match against Hattiesburg FC on Saturday, June 22nd. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. Tickets are $10 and kids 12 and under are admitted for free. 

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AFC Mobile starts second-half of the season in Tallahassee with playoff positioning in mind

After a tough loss last week, AFC Mobile dropped to third place in the GCPL East standings (3-1-1, 10 points) and are looking to rebound against Tallahassee SC (3-1-1, 10 points). The Battle Lions of Tallahassee are 2nd in GCPL East by virtue of the second tiebreaker, goal differential, which is one better than AFC Mobile’s entering Saturday’s match.

All-time series: Tallahassee SC and AFC Mobile ended their first-ever match in a 2-2 draw on a rain-soaked pitch in Mobile on the season’s first matchday. Mobile’s Ibrahima Ndaw opened the scoring early, but a long-range chip by Tallahassee’s Sy Fontenot equalized for the visitors. Late in the match, Tallahassee SC’s Peter Love scored a free kick from distance to take the lead before a last-gasp header by Mobile’s Chisom Ogbonna pulled out the equalizer in the second minute of added time.

Tallahassee SC Players to Watch: Tallahassee has proven early on that they belong in this league. While much of that is due to their organized defense, there is also the midfield magic of Boneco Bazil and Daniel Villa who each have 2 goals, with Bazil also contributing 2 assists. Villa’s contributions, however, cannot be noted solely on the boxscore. A player at University of South Florida, Villa’s leadership in the middle, hard-nosed tackles, and secondary passing to open space have helped the Battle Lions enter the second half of the season with a playoff position well within their grasp.

With 2 goals and 2 assists plus opportunities created, Tallahasse SC’s Boneco Bazil has had an outstanding debut in the GCPL

Matchup to Watch: Goalkeeper Hugo Castro Rodrigues is a monster in between the pipes for Tallahassee. In the season opener, the Mobile attack was best held in check by the man known affectionately in Tallahassee as “Peruzzi.” Peruzzi was able to make more than a few acrobatic saves at point blank range with Mobile’s attack bearing down on him. It was Peruzzi’s quick thinking that caught a pushed up Mobile attack and ended up getting an assist on the Fontenot goal. Since that first game against Tallahassee, Mobile has gone on to score 3 or more goals in every match, while Tallahassee has only given up 2 goals once more.

Why this is a big deal? With both of these clubs drawing earlier and only having losses to the Gulf Coast Rangers, it is all about the playoffs stepping into the second half of the season. A win for either team vaults the victor into playoff position with a definitive head-to-head tiebreak and four matches to play.

AFC Mobile plays Tallahassee SC at the Florida State University Main Campus Fields, 1001 St Augustine St, Tallahassee, Florida. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. CDT (8 p.m. EDT). Tickets are $7 and kids 12 and under are admitted for free.

AFC Mobile Falls Short to Gulf Coast Rangers in First Loss of the Season

In a match that felt every bit the rivalry that it is from start to finish, AFC Mobile suffered its first loss of the season in front of a record-breaking crowd of 1,533, dropping to third place in a tight GCPL Eastern Conference.

An early 5th minute goal on a nice flick from Yan Livenu to Xavier Audergon, playing in a left midfield position, saw the Rangers take an early lead. Then, some great ball work from Cameron Cranton sent David Hall wide in the penalty area where he took on Vlad Margolin and Ben Fredrickson and finished the ball at the far post to give the boys from Baldwin County a two goal lead in the 16th minute.

“I feel like it just was not clicking towards the start of the game. I feel like there was a little bit of nerves,” said Mobile defender Mikey Conneh. “Once we conceded the two goals, the bounce back was good. We managed to get over that as a team.”

The bounce back for AFC Mobile began as a bit of nice combination work between Chisom Ogbonna and Conneh, as Ogbonna opened the left flank for Conneh to dribble down the wing, cut in, and finish a powerful ball from the touchline through the goalkeeper’s legs and into the far post in the 18th minute, breathing signs of life back into the Azaleas.

“I really didn’t expect to get the goal through the run,” stated Conneh, “but it was great that I did and the fans were absolute class as always, so it was a special moment for me to score my first goal in Mobile.”

A bit later, in the 22nd minute, Tilman Schober played Arad Lev-Ari into the box where he dribbled through the Rangers’ Kyle Kimbrell and Jordan Sinclair before softly finishing near post to pull the match even.

The frenetic pace of the match continued and in the 42nd as the Rangers found themselves with another dangerous opportunity when Sinclair delivered a long out-swinging corner to the head of Kearney, who played it to Livenu. Livenu delivered a powerful, on-frame header, causing Mobile goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben to make a difficult save to keep the match even going into the half.

Returning to the match all equal at 2-2, David Hall found himself played into an opening by Sinclair. A quick pull-back, followed by an outside the foot touch to find room for himself, had the Canadian bury a shot in the far-side’s upper ninety to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead in the 51st minute. Then, in the 67th minute, Hall was played a similar ball into similar space and found himself as a hat-trick hero for the Eastern Shore team, giving them a big 4-2 lead.

But Mobile, as they are apt to do, would not go away. In the 71st minute after a good bit of ball movement, the Azaleas finally opened up a solid Rangers backline. Sam Blackburn was played through and brought down in the penalty area. Ibrahima Ndaw converted the penalty against his brother, Rangers goalkeeper Barou Ndaw, but was injured on the shot and pulled from the game after bringing the score to 4-3.

Though Mobile frantically tried to pull back an equalizer, the Rangers’ stout defense was able to absorb pressure and walk out of Mobile with a nerve-wracking 4-3 victory, 3 points, and the top-of-the-table in GCPL’s Eastern Conference.

“We feel pretty disappointed in the locker room right now,” said Conneh, “with those early goals we feel that we gifted Rangers the game.”

Following other matches around the league, AFC Mobile sits in third place behind the Gulf Coast Rangers and Tallahassee Soccer Club who pulled out a dominant 3-1 win over Port City FC. The Azaleas are level with Tallahassee on points, but 1 goal behind the Battle Lions on goal differential in the second tie-breaker, having drawn against them 2-2 earlier in the season.

This week, AFC Mobile will travel all the way to Tallahassee, Florida to take on Tallahassee SC. The match kicks off at 7:00 PM CDT (8:00 p.m. EDT) at the Florida State University SportsPlex in Tallahassee, FL.  

Mobile returns to The Lip on Saturday, June 22nd to take on Hattiesburg FC at 7:00 p.m.

AFC Mobile hosts Eastern Shore neighbors in top-of-the-table clash

AFC Mobile, the current GCPL East leaders, (3-1-0, 10 points) will look to build on its fast start to the season on Saturday when it hosts Gulf Coast Rangers (2-2-0, 8 points) who are coming off a disappointing 0-0 midweek draw with Port City FC.

All-time series: In the first year of this fixture, Gulf Coast Rangers won both legs, 2-0. At the Lip, a controversial call erased an apparent goal from Mobile’s Abdal Al-Mutairi and Rangers’ Nathan Gillespie, a former AFC Mobile man, scored the second goal into an open net after Mobile pulled its keeper into the Rangers’ box for a late corner. In the Baldwin County leg, Mobile played toe-to-toe with the Rangers and had what would have been the go-ahead goal disallowed again when Martin Fiemwhale was ruled offside. Two second-half goals completed the double for the Rangers, who went on to a second-place finish in the GCPL East.

The Gulf Coast Ranger’s Players to Watch: The Gulf Coast Rangers feature several familiar faces to AFC Mobile fans: Brantton Greene, a former AFC Mobile left back with lightning quick speed up the flanks in both the attack and defense, and Barou Ndaw, former AFC Mobile goalkeeper and brother of AFC Mobile’s current leading goalscorer Ibrahima Ndaw, minding the nets. The Rangers also boast a strong midfield led by Cameron Cranton, an attacking midfielder who leads the charge for the Rangers with incisive passing and Matt McArthur, a hard-nosed, experienced defensive midfielder who poses a threat from set pieces. Leading the line is last year’s GCPL Eastern Conference MVP Yan Livenu, who stretches defenses with his off-ball movement.

The Gulf Coast Rangers forward Yan Livenu is one of the most dangerous attackers in the Gulf Coast Premier League and will be one to watch during the Rangers’ attack.

Matchup to Watch: The key matchup to watch will undoubtedly be Livenu’s duel with AFC Mobile’s Vlad Margolin. Margolin has proved solid in defense for the Azaleas through four games this season, quieting current golden boot leader Mikey Lightbourne of Pensacola in addition to Port City’s dangerous pair of Michael Cooper and Jordan Hall. Livenu’s technical skill and deep runs will pose a different threat for Margolin, Zubair Taylor, goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben, and the rest of the Mobile backline.

Why this is a big deal? These are two clubs looking to top one another in the standings and on the pitch. They are the last two undefeated teams in the Eastern Conference, and with a win, would top the league-wide GCPL standings. A win for Mobile would cement the upstart Azaleas as the real deal and the team to beat going into the second half of the season, providing a serious boost to the team’s push for its first-ever playoff place.

AFC Mobile hosts the Gulf Coast Rangers at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex, 3610 Michael Boulevard, Mobile, Alabama. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and kids 12 and under are admitted for free.

AFC Mobile Holds On To Beat Pensacola FC 4-3

It was a tale of two halves in Pensacola on Saturday night when AFC Mobile traveled to Ashton Brosnaham Park to take on Pensacola FC. The Azaleas scored four goals in a dominating first half, all assisted by club co-captain Tilman Schober. Despite the strong lead, the Azaleas conceded three goals in the second half to hold on to a 4-3 win over the 59ers.

“I’m very disappointed in how the second-half went,” said Schober. “It’s difficult because you know you’re the better team, but for some reason, it just wouldn’t work. But we got the game over the line, and we won in the end. It’s three points, and we’re still first. So we’ve just got to look at the positives and try to learn from the mistakes we made at the beginning of the second half.

It was a lackluster start for both teams with few chances early on. Sam Blackburn scored the first goal for the Azaleas in the 16th minute after getting on the end of a ball from Schober.

Blackburn’s goal put the Azaleas on the front foot, leading to a barrage of chances for the visitors. Schober nearly found himself on the scoresheet in the 21st minute, but his shot from the right side of the box bounced off the right post. Minutes later, Chisom Ogbonna took a long-range effort that was kept out of the net by Pensacola’s goalkeeper Mike Clifford.

The Azaleas doubled their lead in the 27th minute after a low rolling ball from Schober found its way to Ibrahima Ndaw, who drilled the ball into the back of the net from point-blank range.

In the 33rd minute, Schober sent in a cross from the right wing that was slotted home by Ogbonna, giving the visitors a 3-0 lead.

Late in stoppage time, Schober sent in another cross that was poked home by Arad Lev-Ari for the fourth goal of the game for the Azaleas.

“I was always wide open on the right wing. That really is good for me cause I can take a touch and cross it in and we have good strikers like Chisom and Iba to finish my crosses,” said Schober.

The story changed drastically, as did the momentum, almost immediately after the halftime break. The 59ers’ Mikey Lightbourne, Pensacola’s leading scorer, put one away right after the start of the second half to bring the score to 4-1. Then in the 60th minute, a Pensacola set play was put away by Eric Buer to cut the Azaleas’ lead in half. Remnants of Pensacola’s collapse against Mobile last season were in the air, though this time the boot was on the other foot.

The game continued at a frenetic and frantic pace as Mobile tried to put away one more to stave off the energized 59ers attack. Meanwhile, despite the two conceded goals, AFC Mobile’s goalkeeper Dominic Nascimben made a few crucial saves in the second half to help the Azaleas maintain their lead, and Clifford also made some dynamic saves to help the 59ers hopes of a comeback stay in tact.

Then, in the 97th minute of the game, Pensacola played a long desperation ball forward. Both Nascimben and Mobile center back Vlad Margolin went to clear the ball out, but Margolin headed it back into the net for a last gasp own goal for Pensacola, which brought the score to 4-3. The referee blew the final whistle after the restart. In spite of the poor second half from Mobile, the 4-3 win kept Mobile at the top of the Eastern Conference heading into next week.

AFC Mobile returns to the Lip next week to take on their rivals from across the bay the Gulf Coast Rangers. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and kids 12 and under are admitted for free.

AFC Mobile Takes the First Leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup​

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.

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 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.

Getting to Know You: Rangers FC

AFC Mobile is off to a good start to the season, winning two out of three and averaging over three goals per game, but its next test may be its biggest yet. On the other side of Mobile Bay, a new GCPL team  will be entering The Lip looking for a win of its own. The Daphne-based club that plays its home games in Foley is Gulf Coast Rangers FC, and it’s been competitive in their opening GCPL season. Coming off a 1-1 draw with Baton Rouge United, the Rangers will enter Sweet Lunacy’s County Seat hoping to steal some road points and head back to the ‘burbs with a first-leg victory in hand.

CLUB: Gulf Coast Rangers FC
NICKNAME: Rangers

Rangers FC entered the GCPL in good form, losing narrowly to Gulfport’s Port City FC 2-1, running over Moss Point’s Real United FC 10-2, falling to Mississippi Blues 3-2, and tying Baton Rouge United 1-1. As a first-year club, Rangers have looked dangerous attacking and have one of the top goalkeepers in the GCPL with former Atlanta Silverback Xavier Audergon. Rangers have also gotten players from their youth academy involved, providing opportunities to several current and former Ranger youth players including up-and-coming Bayside Academy goalkeeper Ty Turner.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: There are plenty of familiar faces with the Rangers, but the versatile, attacking trio of Yan Linevu, David Hall, and Amos Ndikumana have proven difficult for most opponents. Linevu has a knack for getting himself into highly dangerous positions for the Rangers; Hall uses his size and immense speed to create matchup headaches for defenses; and Ndikumana is proficient at both scoring and setting up goals from the wing.

The Gulf Coast Rangers FC GCPL team can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RangersFCMens.

Mobile faces Gulf Coast Rangers FC this Saturday, June 9th.  There will be some pre-game surprises at 6:30 p.m. and kickoff is  7:00 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are $5 and children 12 and under are free. Saturday’s game will also be Military Appreciation Night.  All veterans and active duty military personnel will be admitted free of charge.