Tag: pensacola

Resurgent Pensacola FC looks to continue busting brackets in Mobile

The old idiom about it being “crunch time” is a reality for AFC Mobile this weekend. After dropping a tough 2-1 decision to Port City FC last week, the Azaleas (4-2-2, 14 points) are looking to rebound against a resurgent Pensacola FC (2-2-4, 8 points) squad that while already eliminated from the playoffs has been scoring goals at alarming rate and making a mess for GCPL Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls as they do.

All-time series: AFC Mobile and Pensacola FC have been tied at the hip for years, and AFC Mobile would likely not exist without Pensacola. Pensacola FC likewise would not be in the GCPL without AFC Mobile. Over the past three years, the series is tied as well. The Azaleas and the 59ers each have two wins, two draws, and one loss against each other. However, it is not the results as much as it is the scorelines in the matches that people remember. Pensacola and Mobile have combined for 28 goals over five games. The last three matches played by these two sides have all ended in 4-3 results, with Mobile winning two of those and Pensacola taking the other.

And with the way Pensacola has been putting up goals since they were awoken in the second half against Mobile a few weeks back, there is no reason to not expect another fire storm this week.

Pensacola FC Players to Watch: Pensacola features a plethora of former University of West Florida stars and hall of famers, but it is Mikey Lightbourne who leads the charge with 6 goals so far on the season. Lightbourne is the focal point of the Pensacola attack, playing as either a central attacking midfielder or support striker. The former Orlando City U23 player has proven difficult to stop for most defenses in the GCPL East.

Matchup to Watch: Arad Lev-Ari and Erik Aispuro are going to have to be big players for the Azaleas. While the backline will have its hands full with the huge attacking resurgence of Pensacola FC, it will be up to Lev-Ari and Aispuro to lead the charge on the attack for Mobile. Pensacola’s Christoph Zeller has consistently been a top defender in the league and since the 59ers have switched from their 4-3-3 formation that started the season to a more conservative 4-4-2, a shift they made in the second half against AFC Mobile back on June 1st, they tightened up their defense. But beyond Lev-Ari and Aispuro trying to break down Pensacola, Domenic Nascimben will undoubtedly need to have another big performance to stop an attack that has produced 17 goals in the last 4.5 matches.

Why is this a big deal? Mobile holds its own playoff fate in their hands. Yes, there are ways that the Azaleas could qualify for the playoffs that require help from other teams, but AFC Mobile’s easiest path is to win its final games. Pensacola, meanwhile, find themselves outside of the playoffs with no way in. With this in mind, Pensacola has never lost in Mobile and this rejuvenated squad could really do some damage in this match to keep things incredibly tight in the GCPL East heading into the last week if they can earn another victory in Mobile.

AFC Mobile hosts Pensacola FC 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 free.

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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.