Tag: non league soccer

AFC Mobile rolls in 11-0 rout of Real United FC

MOSS POINT, Miss. – AFC Mobile snapped a three-match losing streak with a dominant 11-0 victory over Real United FC Riverhawks on Saturday night in Moss Point. Goalkeepers Barou Ndaw and Patrick Davis kept AFC Mobile’s first-ever clean sheet in a joint effort, while the netminder’s brother Iba Ndaw led the Azaleas in scoring with four goals. Abdal Almutairi applied consistent pressure on the Riverhawks defense and scored a hat trick, including his first goal for the club. This match saw three AFC Mobile United players make their first team debut: Davis, Matthew Duffey, and Justin Mallis, brother of AFC Mobile regular Markos Mallis.

“We were just the better team tonight and it showed in the scoreline,” AFC Mobile coach Nate Nicholas said. “But just to be blatantly honest, I’m not going to really be able to take a whole lot from that game and use it for next week. With a game that high-scoring, it kind of gets a little bit unrealistic.”

Mobile controlled the early stages of the game. The Azaleas opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Martin Fiemawhle sent a ball across the face of goal that was slotted home by Iba Ndaw. Real United had a short spell of possession after the opening goal, but never truly threatened Barou Ndaw in goal. The Azaleas nearly doubled their tally after Dawson Jellenc initiated a string of build-up passes in the midfield. The ball returned to Jellenc, whose shot went just wide of the goal. AFC Mobile scored again in the 35th minute after Matt Merrill played a long ball from the midfield to Fiemawhle who chipped the keeper to give the Azaleas a 2-0 lead. In the 40th minute, Almutairi opened his scoring account by chipping the keeper and giving the Azaleas a 3-0 lead. Two minutes later, Merrill played another through ball from midfield and Almutairi sent a high arching shot in the air, chipping the keeper for a second time. The Azaleas took a 4-0 lead into halftime.

“They just needed high pressure on the defense,” Almutairi said. “I just did what the coach asked me to and I pressed high on them.”

Mobile found the back of the net early in the second half. In the 47th minute, Iba Ndaw took a close range shot that spilled across the goalline after it was fumbled by the Riverhawks keeper. Two minutes later, Ira Bowens played a ball for Almutairi down the right wing. Almutairi completed his hat trick after sending in another arching shot from a tight angle, giving the Azaleas a 6-0 lead. In the 53rd minute, Almutairi played a ball into the box and Matt Merrill scored from point blank range, giving the Azaleas a 7-0 lead. The away team continued to dominate the second half. Iba Ndaw completed his hat trick in the 80th minute after Matthew Duffey played him in from the top of the box. In the 87th minute, Duffey went on to score a goal of his own in his AFC Mobile debut off an assist from Brantton Greene.

Off the restart from Duffey’s goal, Iba Ndaw played in Tomas Lopez who slotted home an easy effort to bring the score to 10-0.  In the 91st minute, Iba Ndaw scored one more goal unassisted after dribbling past the Riverhawks’ defense and goalkeeper, bringing the final score to 11-0.

This Saturday, the Azaleas return to the Lip to take on Port City FC in the second leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup. Although this rivalry is only two years old, it has produced some of the closest matches and most memorable moments in either club’s history, and has been labeled the “realest rivalry in American soccer” by media outlets.

“Last time they did a real good job of getting one of our better players red-carded and suspended,” Nicholas said. “It’s a grudge match. I don’t care if one team is in the playoffs and one team is not. It was the same way last year and both games were very intense, very in your face, go-at-it soccer and I don’t expect it to be any different. I expect it to be pretty hardcore.”

Kickoff for that game is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 14th 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.

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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.”

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.

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. 

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.

Getting to Know You: Cajun Soccer Club

This weekend, AFC Mobile will travel to Lafayette, Louisiana for a cross-conference matchup against the Cajun Soccer Club. Awaiting them there will be one of the most consistently dominant sides in the GCPL. Coming off a 1-1 draw against Boca Knights at LUS Fiber Stadium, CSC will attempt to earn all three points in its second home match of the season. Meanwhile, AFC Mobile, following an offensive firestorm in a 4-3 loss to Pensacola FC, will be looking to steal some points in one of the toughest places to play in the GCPL.

CLUB: Cajun Soccer Club

NICKNAME: CSC

Cajun Soccer Club pulled off what had never been done in the GCPL before, when it became the first team to knock CD Motagua of New Orleans out of the playoffs. It held tight in the GCPL Cup Championship Game, but ultimately finished as league runner-up in a bitterly contested 1-0 loss to Gaffa FC.

Now the team has reloaded bringing back much of the cast from last season to try to get over that final hurdle and clinch their first GCPL Cup….

PLAYERS TO WATCH: CSC has a plethora of attacking options to choose from, but the man that the offense runs through is Mickey Ledger. Ledger, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines international, has played in senior team competitions against the USMNT. Last year, he was perhaps the top attacker in the GCPL and won its Golden Boot. This year he will be joined by former Honduran U23 Erick Medina at left back. Medina has international experience and will bring not only a toughness but a sense of calm awareness to the CSC defense and attack

The club can be found on Facebook at @CajunSoccerClubMensTeam and Twitter at @CajunSoccerClub.

AFC Mobile Falls 4-3 in GCPL Opener

Despite a late rally and a goal in the 85th minute, AFC Mobile fell 4-3 to Pensacola FC at home in the first Gulf Coast Premier League match of the season.

Pensacola started on the front foot, nearly opening the scoring in the fourth minute of the match when a shot from Pensacola’s Matt Brooks ricocheted off the crossbar and out for a Mobile goal kick. Four minutes later, Pensacola’s Dillon Gallet found his way in behind the Mobile defense, but keeper Elijah Gibson collected Gallet’s attempt.

Minutes later Mobile forward Iba Ndaw was brought down outside the box and awarded a free kick. Ndaw curled in a free kick into the left corner to give the Azaleas a 1-0 lead. It was Ndaw’s second free kick goal in an AFC Mobile shirt.

“You definitely could see we had some attacking talent out there. Iba Ndaw had a couple more goals. That’s been a great pickup for us.” AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said.

In the 21st minute, Chisom Ogbonna beat the Pensacola defense but his shot was easily collected by Pensacola keeper Rudy Seelman. Pensacola would nearly equalize in the 26th minute but Christopher Zeller’s header was stopped by Gibson.

Pensacola’s equalizer would not be delayed long, however, coming in the 30th minute in the form of an own goal after Martin Fiemawhle’s attempt to collect a low cross from Pensacola ended up in the back of the net. But only three minutes later, the Azaleas took a 2-1 lead after a shot from Ndaw fell to Ogbonna in at the back post.

Chisom Ogbonna after scoring against Pensacola FC on May 12, 2018. (Photo: Seth Laubinger)

In the 36th minute, Ndaw was fouled hard and returned to his feet gingerly. Minutes later coach Nicholas subbed Ndaw off for Abdul Almutairi. Almutairi, a former Kuwaiti U-17 international, was able to slot in several attacking positions throughout the match in his GCPL and AFC Mobile debut.

Just before the end of the half, Pensacola’s Isaiah Lopez headed in a shot at the back post to level the game at 2-2 after a high cross went untouched. Seconds later, Lopez was shown yellow during stoppage time of the first half after a hard flying tackle.

Pensacola took their first lead of the game in the 64th minute when Alik Morgan slotted in a low cross that deflected off Gibson. As the away team scored its third goal, Mobile centerback Pablo Sanjuan Delgado came off with a leg injury and was replaced with Guillermo Lumbreras, Jr.  

“For him to get injured and give up the game-leading goal at that time, at the same time, it was a tough pill to swallow.” Nicholas said.

The Azaleas nearly equalized in the 68th minute when Ndaw beat the Pensacola defense, but his low shot went across the face of goal. Two minutes later, Pensacola took a 4-2 lead after a scramble in the box.

Pensacola almost iced the match with a fifth goal on the night when an advancing Elijah Gibson was chipped, but the shot was cleared off the line by Mobile’s Markos Mallis, who played all 90 minutes for the home side. 

As is their wont, Mobile made it close. In the 85th minute, midfielder David Valverde’s pass opened the Pensacola defense to find Erik Aispuro on the wing. Aispuro then sent in a cross to the penalty spot, where Ndaw powered in the shot to put Mobile back in the game with five minutes left to play, sending the 871 fans in attendance into a frenzy. 

The Azaleas pushed for an equalizer late, but a last ditch free kick at the end of stoppage time was easily cleared. The match ended 4-3. 

AFC Mobile will travel to Lafayette, Louisiana to take on Cajun Soccer Club in the first of two out of conference matches this season on Saturday. That match kicks off at 6 p.m. at LUS FIber stadium. 

AFC Mobile will return to The Lip in three 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.

 

Getting to Know You: Pensacola FC

The preseason has officially ended and Gulf Coast Premier League action begins this weekend! AFC Mobile’s first opportunity to test its merit in regular season GCPL action will be this Saturday, May 12th, against Pensacola FC. Pensacola FC considers itself “The People’s Club” and has a strong group of former University of West Florida alumni at its disposal. Last year, AFC Mobile lost to them at The Lip before pulling off a stunning draw at Ashton Brosnaham Stadium in Pensacola. This year, both teams have reloaded, Pensacola FC has rebranded, and round two could be fascinating.

CLUB: Pensacola FC

NICKNAME: The 59ers

Last year was Pensacola FC’s debut year in the Gulf Coast Premier League. In that opening salvo, they took on the moniker of “Gulf Coast Texans” after the Pensacola-based youth club where several of the players either coached or started playing. For the 2018 season, they have rebranded to better represent the City of Pensacola by taking on the new name “Pensacola FC,” which was the youth club’s name prior to becoming an affiliate of the Dallas Texans youth club.

In their debut season, Pensacola FC found themselves relatively successful, finishing the season with a 6-1-3 record. It came down to the last Wednesday of the regular season when Biloxi City held the 59ers’ fate in their hand. If Biloxi had drawn with or beaten Gaffa FC, PFC would have qualified for the playoffs, but Gaffa won and Pensacola was sent home without tasting the playoffs in their inaugural year.

With many of the same players back this year and Nolan Intermoia taking over coaching duties from Nick Cardosa, the club is hoping to continue their success from last season and make that final push into an expanded playoff field.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The 59ers have studs on both sides of the pitch including a few younger UWF graduates. However, it is the work of Lafayette-native Dillon Gallet that spectators will want to watch. Gallet was an All-GCPL East selection and finished tied for fifth place in the Golden Boot race. He may be one of the fastest players in the GCPL and will prove a matchup headache all night for any team. Defensively, Chance Chancellor was also an All-GCPL East selection. He has taken on player-coaching duties this year, but will make sure that his defensive line will again be one of the best in the GCPL.

The club can be found on Facebook at @pensacolafc1559 and Twitter at @PensacolaFC.

Tickets to Saturday’s game are just $5 each, and all kids 12 and under will be admitted free of charge. This Saturday is Teacher Appreciation Night! All school employees with a valid school ID will be admitted at no charge! All AFC Mobile home games are played at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile.

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.