Orlando City Win Epic Play Off Game

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer |

In one of the most exciting matches of the 2011 season, Orlando City defeated the Charleston Battery 3-1 in extra time in front of a raucous 7,609 fans at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Marking the first win for the club in the play offs, the Lions now advance to the American Division Championship against the Richmond Kickers which will be at the same venue next Saturday.

The game started with Orlando on the attack but it was Charleston who had the first real attempt on goal as Battery forward, Dane Kelly shot wide after finding himself in the clear with just City keeper Gallardo to beat. Orlando continued to pound away at the Charleston goal but Charleston’s defense, who finished 3rd in the USL PRO in goals allowed (25), were resolute. Half time was looming and it looked like we’d be going into the break all even but in the 44th minute Orlando finally broke through.

Orlando City midfielder Lewis Neal found a neat pass on the 6 yard the box for City forward Max Griffin, who made no mistake in finding the left corner of the net. 1-0.  Griffin’s first in over six weeks.

“It was great to get all of the pressure off of my back,” said Griffin. “I think everything is starting to come together for the team. I’m just happy I scored.”

After halftime, Charleston Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser gave the team a spark by making three substitutions at the beginning of the start of the second half. It was one of those players, midfielder Stephen Armstrong, who was a key part in bringing the Battery level, as against the run of play his corner found Battery forward Nicki Paterson whose neat header found the net leaving City keeper Gallardo sprawling.

The Battery gained the momentum and the confidence to go forward and looked the most likely to take the lead. Orlando fought back realizing their season was just one goal away from ending and created a couple of half chances as we approached full time.

“I looked at my players after regulation and said it can’t end this way,” Orlando City Head Coach said after the match. “We were the better team. We just needed the extra time to show it.”

Emphatic words and ones that the Orlando players took to heart as Ian Fuller found Dennis Chin unmarked and his neat finish over the keeper in the 100th minute proved to be a decisive moment. 2-1.

Battery gave it their all and things went from bad to worse for them just moments after the goal. Dane Kelley can consider himself very unfortunate to have been sent off in 102nd minute after receiving his second yellow for making a clumsy challenge on Orlando keeper Miguel Gallardo.  The City goalkeeper picked up the ball at the edge of the box and Kelley’s momentum meant a clash was inevitable. Gallardo was left laid out on the pitch and the red card was produced.

Orlando then took full advantage as they carved their opponents open. Battery had no choice but to attack and this left them vulnerable to the counter attack. Orlando wasted several chances to wrap up the game but finally all City supporters were able to breath as Jamie Watson found an unmarked Lewis Neal in the 118th minute and he found a neat finish to the right hand side of the goal to ensure the victory. 3-1.

Orlando will now face the Richmond Kickers next week in the American Division Championship next Saturday, August 27. To secure your seat to the American Championship game, call the ticket office at 855-ORL-CITY (855-675-2489) or email tickets@orlandocitysoccer.com.  Tickets start at just $12.

Scoring Summary

44th Minute – Orlando: Max Griffin (Lewis Neal)

64th Minute – Charleston: Nicki Paterson (Stephen Armstong)

100th Minute – Orlando: Dennis Chin (Ian Fuller)

118th Minute – Orlando: Lewis Neal (Jamie Watson)

Orlando City Line-up

GK: Miguel Gallardo

D: Mechack Jerome, Kieron Bernard, Rob Valentino, Luke Boden

M: Kevin Molino (64’ – Ian Fuller), Yordany Alvarez, Lawrence Olum (105’ , Lewis Neal

F: Max Griffin (68’ – Dennis Chin), Jamie Watson (119’ – Jack Traynor)

Unused Subs

Sean Kelley, Devorn Jorsling, Wes Allen

Charleston Battery Line-up

GK: Andrew Dykstra

D: Mark Wiltse, Colin Falvey, Sean Flatley, Nigel Marples (105’ – Seedy Bah)

M: Mike Zaher (63’ – Brandon Massie), Cole Peverley, Kevin Jackson (57’ – Stephen Armstrong), Alex Caskey (63’ – Jon Gruenewald)

F: Nicki Paterson (105’ – Levi Coleman), Dane Kelley

Unused Subs

Keith Wiggans, Graham Dugoni

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