The Silverbacks found a first half 1-0 lead. In a seemingly repetitive sequence, that lead was squandered in the final 30 minutes of the match. The loss followed the ever-familiar pattern of all Atlanta losses this season: obtain a 1-0 first half lead, give up a frustrating equalizer, and let in an opponent’s go-ahead score in the waning minutes. The loss leaves the ‘Backs in a questionable spot as they head to the NPSL playoffs.
The match was scheduled to kick off at 5:00 PM, but a front of isolated thunderstorms delayed the match over an hour. The downpour caused some mild flooding on the edges of the pitch at Silverbacks Park, but the grounds crew managed to remove the majority before kickoff. Once underway, both teams swapped possession as they worked to feel out the opposition and the newly-soaked surface. Atlanta created a few offensive changes with the long balls down the pitch, but failed to convert. The Jesters created even more changes towards the box, but the ‘Backs backline was up to the task in the first 45 minutes. A defensive half looked to end at 0-0 until captain Mitch Garcialaunched a perfectly-placed ball from the edge of the box and buried it in the back corner of the net. The 1-0 lead was primed to give Atlanta confidence in the second half.
The Jesters responded in the second half with multiple offensive chances, but that opened the door to Atlanta counter attacks. New Orleans had a ball bouncing around in the box when Jesters star forward Jon Evans buried a shot past GK Thomas Hunter in the 53rd minute. More chances from Atlanta included Alex Nyarko Harlley in a one-on-one with the New Orleans GK. The save was extraordinary to keep Harlley off the board. Atlanta also had a long ball launched into the box where center back Mohammed Issahaku headed towards net, only to be punched away.
Jon Evans struck again in the final minutes of the contest, giving an Atlanta opponent another 2-1 lead. The only notable chance for Atlanta before the final whistle was an incredibly hard challenge on the edge of the box where a Jester defender struck ‘Backs winger Martin Cortes in the face with an errant kick. A call would have given the Silverbacks a last-gasp free kick chance, but only a goal kick ensued. The final whistle blew moments after that.
“It was a hard game for us. In the beginning, we felt like we had the game under control.” said forward Alex Nyarko Harlley. He got significant minutes for the first time in a few matches after being out with nagging injuries. “So we’ve got to move on and focus on the next game. We need to get the right result going into the playoffs.” He spoke about how the team needs to work together better as the playoffs approach, “we’ve got to help each other, and support each other. [I’m] not feeling full strength, but it’s getting there game by game.”
With the loss, the Silverbacks seemed destined for a third matchup with Asheville City SC on July 11th. Whether that match would be in Atlanta or Asheville will be settled next weekend.
The Silverbacks conclude the regular season at home against cross-town rival Georgia Revolution FC. Come support the red and black as they look to take the final leg of the Atlanta derby! Secure your tickets today!