The Atlanta Silverbacks played the visiting FC Edmonton to a 1-1 draw on Saturday evening in front of a sellout crowd of 5,000 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
The Silverbacks went ahead in the 60th minute thanks to Brad Stisser’s first goal of the season, but a stunning free kick effort from FC Edmonton Neil Hlavaty gave the visitors a share of the points.
“It was great goal, I can’t deny that,” said Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes “I think we played great until we gave up that goal and then we let down for a couple of seconds and that is what happens. You can’t afford to let down in the league and we got punish for it.”
The Silverbacks, who were in first place going into the game, showed their intentions right out of the gate, with Danny Barrera sending in a dangerous cross that FC Edmonton goalkeeper Lance Parker could only punch away in the second minute.
Scoring chances were few and far between early on, however, and the story of the first half was how physical the play was. Just minutes after Silverbacks Richie Menjivar received a yellow card for a late challenge, FC Edmonton Chris Nurse went into the book for a foul on goalkeeper Eric Ati.
Then in the 31st minute, Nurse picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Silverbacks Borfor Carr which resulted in a red card.
With FC Edmonton down to 10 men, the game began to open up for the Silverbacks. The first evidence of that came in the 38th minute when Carr nearly put the home team ahead. A streaking Stisser played the ball across the goal for Carr, whose diving header fell just wide.
The Silverbacks entered the second half looking to exploit the one-man advantage, and they nearly achieved that to perfection less than 10 seconds in. Stisser was played in on goal and fired the ball into the net, but the assistant referee had his flag up for a hand ball.
The forward’s frustration would turn to joy 15 minutes later, however, when the Silverbacks finally got the goal they had been pushing for. Menjivar slotted a pass through to defender Mark Bloom, who found Stisser in front for the finish. The goal, Stisser’s first of the season, made the score 1-0 in the 60th minute.
Just when the Silverbacks appeared to be in control of the game, FC Edmonton stormed back. Silverbacks Beto Navarro committed a foul 25 yards from goal, giving the visitors a dangerous free kick opportunity. One chance was all FC Edmonton needed with Hlavaty burying a curling effort past a helpless Ati to make it 1-1 in the 70th minute.
The goal gave the visitors momentum, despite being down a man, and defender Albert Watson and forward Daryl Fordyce each saw great chances denied by Ati just minutes after Hlavaty’s strike.
“This team is so full of character summoned up by no less by our captain Albert Watson who had his two front teeth knock out here and now he is on his way in an ambulance to get them put back in believe it or not and he continued to play throughout the match,” said FC Edmonton Coach, Colin Miller.
The Silverbacks nearly grabbed the lead back in the 81st minute when Navarro glanced a header off the crossbar from point blank range.
Each team saw scoring chances go begging in the final minutes, with Silverbacks forward Kellen Gulley and FC Edmonton Massimo Mirabelli having their shots saved by Parker and Ati respectively.
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