RECAP | Armada FC 0, Scorpions 0

Neither side could find a winner in a back-and-forth contest
Jacksonville Armada FC Staff | Aug 29, 2015

In a match that was every bit as electrifying as the lightning that delayed it for more than 90 minutes, Jacksonville Armada FC and the San Antonio Scorpions battled to a scoreless draw in front of 7,053 fans at Community First Park.

The result stretched the Armada FC’s home unbeaten streak to six games (3W-3D-0L) in NASL play, a stretch that has buoyed their hopes in the league standings astride a 0-0-5 road record to start the Fall Season.

Saturday’s draw wasn’t the ideal result given a multitude of chances for the hosts, but the same could be said of San Antonio, who defeated Jacksonville last weekend, but had struggled away from home.

The visitors nearly snatched three points near the death, when forward Omar Cummings stole the ball and found captain Rafael Castillo, who lined up a shot that took a deflection and skimmed off the crossbar.

That was one of many close calls, as Miguel Gallardo came up with several clutch saves. Daniel Fernandes did the same in the other net, and both teams missed golden opportunities.

With a slew of absences at the back, the Armada FC had to get a bit creative by inserting forward Tyler Williams — in his first career start — at right back. They also welcomed back attacking midfielder Marcos Flores, who hadn’t played since July 15, long enough to grow a full beard.

Flores’ return meant Akeil Barrett was pushed up to the central striker role in the absence of Alhassane Keita.

Having a forward at the back — forward Tommy Krizanovic replaced Williams at the half — coupled with the Armada FC’s attacking mindset, promised a thrilling matchup for San Antonio’s 5-4-1 system, organized to spring counterattacks via Cummings, who entered Saturday as the NASL’s top goalscorer.

Both teams came out firing, seemingly electrified by the lightning that was still visible in the distance.

The first half was back-and-forth, end-to-end action with great saves and near misses for each side.

Gallardo stuffed Marvin Chavez on a free kick, then did the same to Cummings on a breakaway.

At the other end, Jemal Johnson nearly opened the scoring in the ninth minute when he turned and ripped a shot into the top right corner, but he was ruled offside. Pascal Millien also had a good look after a cut-back pass from Jaime Castrillon, but he blasted it over the top.

Barrett forced a save from Fernandes in the 37th with a low shot, and Fernandes came up big again minutes later to stop Johnson’s free kick.

But the best chance of all came around the half hour mark, when the Armada FC summoned some miraculous defending to keep the match scoreless.

Cummings broke away again and looked destined to score, but as he tried to go around Gallardo, the ‘keeper knocked the ball away. Then Lucas Scaglia managed to block the follow-up shot on a would-be open goal to end the threat.

Barrett almost broke the deadlock after the break, when Millien slipped in a perfect through ball, but Barrett’s shot went inches wide of the far post.

The Scorpions should have answered with a goal of their own moments later, when Cummings and Zourab Tsiskaridze got tangled up chasing a corner at the back post that easily could have been deflected in.

Millien forced Fernandes into action in the 63rd, when he got on the end of a perfect cross from left back Lucas Rodriguez, but the Scorpions ‘keeper was there for the save.

Mere seconds later, Scorpions sub Billy Forbes blew a golden chance when he blasted a point-blank shot over the top after a feed from Cummings.

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