RECAP | Armada FC 1, Indy 0

Jacksonville Armada FC and Indy Eleven went into the halftime break level after a scoreless 45 minutes
Mike McCall (@MikeMcCall} | May 9, 2015

Armada FC has its first win streak in club history.

A headed goal from midfielder Bochy Hoyos in the 50th minute provided the fuel for a 1-0 victory over the Indy Eleven in front of 8,318 at Community First Park on Saturday night, keeping Jacksonville undefeated at home (3-0) and building on a 2-1 win against San Antonio last week.

It was a final tally below the Armada FC’s previous average of two goals per game, and they locked up the match in uncharacteristic fashion by eschewing their attacking focus, making three defensive subs and riding out the final minutes to earn their first ever shutout.

It wasn’t the flashiest finish, but after seeing second-half goals spoil results at Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay, Jacksonville was happy to buckle down and secure three points.

Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo nixed the biggest threat in the 87th minute, when he tipped the ball over the crossbar after Indy had pinged it around in the box. Defender Fabricio Ortiz cleared the ensuing header off the line.

But there were trying moments. Three lax passes among the back line (from Gallardo, Ortiz, and substitute Joseph Toby) left the Eleven with an open goal to attack, but all three times the Armada FC slipped away.

That nervy finish followed a first half that the home side dominated.

Other than Gallardo and central defenders Ortiz and Lucas Trejo, pretty much everyone else got in on the attack.

Matt Bahner often led the charge forward from his position at right back, winning two corners and forcing a save in the first five minutes. Marcos Flores displayed his deft touch with a number of well-placed passes — including one from his backside after being taken down — and forwards Alhassane Keita, Jemal Johnson, and Pascal Millien were their usual pestering and productive selves.

In all, the Armada FC won seven corners in the first 12 minutes (they led 9-0 for the half), but they couldn’t convert any into goals.

After that opening assault, the game slowed when Keita took an elbow to the forehead and suffered a cut that landed him in the locker room.

Rather than sub off the reigning NASL Player of the Week, co-head coach Guillermo Hoyos opted to play with 10 men for more than 10 minutes. It was a risky move, but the Armada FC still mostly controlled play and nearly snatched a goal when holding midfielder Lucas Scaglia’s shot went wide left.

Hoyos’ patience was rewarded in the 28th minute, when Keita came trotting out with a bandage on his head and an ovation from the crowd. Within five minutes, he had taken a shot and won a free kick.

Some of the best chances of the half came at the end, when Flores was called offside while awaiting a pass at the back post, Indy nearly converted on two free kicks, and Bahner had a dangerous cross controlled by Eleven goalkeeper Keith Cardona.

Just after the half, Bahner chased down a through-ball into the corner and sent a line-drive cross into the box. It took a slight deflection off a defender after leaving Bahner’s foot, and Hoyos managed to lean backward and get just enough on his header to send it into the net.

But, as has been the case too often this season, a post-goal defensive lapse followed. Gallardo had to make a great save to stymie an open shot from forward Wojciech Wojcik, and Indy nearly was gifted a goal a moment later.

Gallardo, standing outside his goal to the right, played a curious pass across the open net to Trejo, who misplayed it in front of an on-rushing Victor Pineda. With a second to spare, Trejo regained control and sprinted by the attacker to end the threat.

A few minutes later, another moment of lax defending struck as Ortiz played a soft back pass to Gallardo. An Eleven attacker pounced on the ball and had a teammate open in front of an empty net, but the pass was too strong and was cleared by Trejo.

Flores nearly put the game away in the 66th minute when he threaded a perfect pass through the defense to the far post, but Keita couldn’t direct it into the net. Keita came close two other times as well.

First, after Trejo cleared the ball in the 82nd minute, Keita beat defender Marco Franco and was off to the races until Franco pulled him down, drawing a yellow card. Then, in stoppage time, Bahner and substitute Shawn Nicklaw combined to feed a cross in front of goal, but Keita couldn’t get a foot on it, as Cardona rushed out of the net.

The Armada FC will take their winning streak on the road next week, traveling to face the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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