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Orlando City B (8-6-7, 31 points) defeated Toronto FC ll (6-13-5, 23 points) 2-1 on Saturday night at Titan Soccer Complex with Michael Cox’s heroic late game winner one minute after the Reds equalized in added time. The Canadian striker’s superb performance also included an assist to Lewis Neal’s first goal of the season. The victory extends OCB’s unbeaten streak to nine games and cushions the Lions’ playoff standing.
“We got to make it interesting at the end, don’t we? A lot of late goals recently. I thought it was a victory that we deserved. I thought we were in complete control of the game for long periods,” OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis said. “Credit to TFC ll, they came up with a game plan to try and set in deep to defend and try to counter us. I thought they did that well, but I’ll take the three points and it takes us up to nine games unbeaten now.”
The Lions began the match dominating the possession and the attacking chances. In the 12th minute, Richie Laryea slotted a ball down the right wing to free up Zach Hayden inside the box. After dribbling past the defender, Hayden sent a dangerous cross inside for Tyler Tuner on the far post, but the defense cleared it away.
Seconds before the halftime whistle, TFC II striker Sal Bernal received a through ball behind the back line and shot from outside the box. However, goalkeeper Mark Ridgers, who entered the match leading the Eastern Conference with 66 saves, caught it calmly.
City continued threatening Toronto’s goal in the second half. Six minutes into the half, Keegan Smith found Neal at the edge of the box, who curled it first-time but goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo punched it away. A minute later, Higuita found Laryea inside the box, and the Canadian midfielder’s powerful shot was blocked by Cavalluzzo.
The Lions took the lead in the 58th minute when speedy forward Michael Cox, who looked lively during the entire match, sprinted past the Reds’ fullback down the right flank and found captain Lewis Neal on the far post with a clever ball. The Englishman slid in to tap it home for his first goal and Cox’s second assist of the season.
Toronto seemed to steal a point on the road in added time when Mitch Taintor’s header evened the score.
However, City pushed forward and showed the resilience displayed in last weekend’s road victory over league leaders Louisville City FC to earn another dramatic win. In the second minute of added time, Cox controlled a delivery from the left wing and clinically finished for the game-winner.
OCB’s lineup featured Orlando City First Team players Cristian Higuita and Tommy Redding, who were loaned for tonight to regain match fitness. Redding returned from injury and made his first appearance since July 4, while Higuita made his first start since July 13. Pro Academy player David Lorea made his second professional appearance.
Orlando City B begins a two-game road trip at New York Red Bulls II on Friday, Aug. 12, with a 7 p.m. ET kickoff before visiting the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday, Aug. 17. The Lions return to Titan Soccer Complex on Sunday, Aug. 21, when they host the Richmond Kickers. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Orlando City B – GK Mark Ridgers, D Tyler Turner, Conor Donovan, Tommy Redding (Kyle McFadden 60’), Zach Hayden, M Cristian Higuita, Devron García (Pierre Da Silva 60’)’, Richie Laryea (David Lorea 73’), Lewis Neal, F Keegan Smith (Johnny Mendoza 73’), Michael Cox
Substitutes: GK Jake Fenlason, D Antonio Matarazzo, Andrew Ribeiro
Toronto FC II – GK Angelo Cavalluzzo, D Mitch Taintor, Skylar Thomas, Marro Maletic, Anthony Osorio (Robert Boskovic 90’), M Chris Manwella, Brian James (Liam Fraser 60’), Luca Uccello, Salvador Bernal (Aidan Daniels 65’), F Raheem Edwards, Shaan Hundal (Malik Johnson 83’)
Substitutes: GK Nathan Ingham, D Martin Davis, F Reshon Phillip
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com