RECAP | Armada FC 1, Silverbacks 0

Jaime Castrillón found the back of the net in the first half, which stood as the difference against Atlanta
Jacksonville Armada FC Staff | Aug 15, 2015

In their latest step toward erasing a rough start to this Fall Season, Jacksonville Armada FC dispatched the red-hot Atlanta Silverbacks, 1-0, in front of 7,054 fans at Community First Park on Saturday night.

Midfielder Jaime Castrillón provided the winning goal in the 41st minute, when Atlanta goalkeeper Steward Ceus parried a Shawn Nicklaw cross straight to the Colombian, who rifled a shot into the back of the net.

From there, the home side made defensive substitutions and killed off the clock.

The victory gave the Armada FC their first back-to-back wins since May, their 10th point in the past five matches, and their first win over the Silverbacks, who had come in with only one loss in their past seven games. It was also the first time they’d been shut out in nine matches.

The teams’ formations presented an intriguing tactical matchup, with the Armada FC essentially playing four forwards — using Akeil Barrett as an attacking midfielder — against Atlanta’s three-man back line. On the flip side, Jacksonville had to be mindful of Silverbacks forward Pedro Mendes, the reigning NASL Player of the Week who came in with three goals in two games.

Atlanta’s plan was to absorb pressure with a five-man midfield, win the ball and quickly look for Mendes and Jaime Chavez in transition, which meant lots of critical one-on-one defending from Armada FC holding midfielder Lucas Scaglia and center backs Fabricio Ortiz and Lucas Trejo.

The opening half featured strong build-up play but few scoring opportunities, as both defenses did their jobs well.

The biggest play of the first 20 minutes came from Ortiz, who sprinted back and slid to break up a Michael Reed pass that would have put Mendes through on goal. Ortiz then got to his feet and blocked Mendes’ follow-up shot, and minutes later, he and Scaglia launched back-to-back slide tackles to stop Mendes on the break.

At the other end, the back three of Paul Black, Simon Mensing, and Rauwshan McKenzie did a good job of staying compact and limiting space for the Armada FC’s forwards to work with.

But that changed in the 41st minute, when Pascal Millien sent Shawn Nicklaw through down the right side. The defender played in a low cross that Atlanta ‘keeper Steward Ceus deflected into the middle of the box, and Castrillón was there waiting to finish it off for his second goal in as many games.

After the break, the Armada FC controlled most of the action, with Barrett trying a bicycle kick and Alhassane Keita and Pascal Millien combining down the right while Atlanta looked for chances to counter.

In the 68th minute, Jacksonville coach Guillermo Hoyos made his intentions clear, pulling off Keita to insert Nicolas Perea as a stopper in midfield. That defensive shift led to an uptick in Silverbacks possession, as Junior Burgos curled a shot just wide of a diving David Sierra and the right post in the 72nd.

Hoyos then brought on defender Jordan Gafa for forward Jemal Johnson to further bolster the back in the 75th, and added Lucas Rodriguez for more cover.

Jacksonville nearly put the match away in the 90th when Perea was taken down in the box, but Trejo’s chipped shot fell squarely into the hands of a diving Ceus, setting up a nervy finish as six minutes of stoppage time were announced.

But the Silverbacks struggled to hold the ball until the very last second, when defender Mohammed Issahaku somehow ran past what should have been an easy tap-in after a long ball pulled David Sierra out of his net.

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