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.