Goals weren’t the problem for FC Buffalo in their first road battle of the 2012 NPSL season and, to be frank, it’d be inaccurate to brush off the Blitzers 2-0 loss to AFC Cleveland as a simple matter of personnel.
The Blitzers left for Cleveland down four starters from their opening day stalemate versus Detroit City FC. By the time they took the field, they were down five. After Josiah Snelgrove picked up a nick in Friday’s first half, more than 50 percent of the club’s Sunday XI was unable to test the Royals.
Funny thing happened, though, as head coach Dan Krzyzanowicz’s depth proved up to the fight. Down 1-0 at the half after AFC Cleveland was awarded a first-half penalty, the resilient side snagged an equalizer when no-quit forward Andy Tiedt earned a penalty for his side early in the second frame. Mike Reidy converted for the first goal of the season. It was all square in Cleveland in the 56th minute.
Substitutions proved critical in the next few minutes as Cleveland’s Dennis Holowaty put the Royals up 2-1 in the 60th and Dean Miller made things appear silly just three minutes later when he bested Jordan Dilapo.
The team looked a bit stunned for a few minutes but relentless effort from Reidy, Tiedt, John Grabowski, Josh Faga and Gary Boughton kept the side afloat. It was Boughton who scored an otherworldly tally to bring it within one when halftime substitute Pablo Ordonez (ECC) played provider. The dangerous halftime sub from Bernie Feldmann’s juco side spotted Boughton, whose loft shot had Cleveland’s keeper scrambling backwards to collect the ball after it crossed the goal line.
It was the 86th minute and the Blitzers had four minutes plus its equal in stoppage time to equalize, but the numbers-forward approach was dented — as it so often is — when defender Ruairidh Winters added goal No.4 just as stoppage time began.
The postgame was a tale of two sides who felt quite different. FCB skipper Gary Boughton left the field vowing a different result when the two teams meet in Buffalo next Sunday, May 27 (3p kick, Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium), while Holowaty was overheard in the Cleveland media praising the relative ease he felt in dispatching the Buffalo side.
FC Buffalo: Dilapo; Lill, Tor (Carcaterro 82′), Grabowski, Snelgrove (Scirto 45′), Stedman (Hartzell 85′), Boughton, Ventura (Ordonez 45′, Maier 69′), Reidy, Faga; Tiedt
CLE- Bell, PK (41st)
FCB- Reidy, PK (56′)
CLE- Holowaty (60′)
CLE- Miller (63′)
FCB- Boughton from Ordonez (86′)
CLE- Winters (90’+1)
Other media- Photo gallery from staff photographer Nate Benson (forthcoming)