In a game that featured crunching tackles, torrential downpours, incredible goaltending and the beginnings of a heated rivalry, it was a bizarre sequence of red cards that defined FC Buffalo’s third win of the young season, 2-0 Friday at Krenzler Field in Cleveland, Ohio.
The match-up of the game if not the early season was FCB defender Bobby Ross (SUNY Brockport // Grand Island, N.Y.) on ever dangerous AFC Cleveland forward Vinny Bell, but it was a run-in between Bell and another FCB player that would shift the game in the Blitzers favor.
After 70 minutes of play, Bell aggressively pursued a ball being tracked by FCB goalkeeper Andrew Coughlin (Syracuse University // Baldwinsville, N.Y.). Coughlin reached the loose orb just as Bell slid feet-first into the keeper. Both players jumped up and quite literally all 22 players on the field were inside the FC Buffalo 18. Fellow stalwart GK Ben Yabrow was playing peacemaker and should be lauded for his efforts.
The referees convened to discuss what happened and what punishments were forthcoming and a red card was issued to Bell for an apparent headbutt on Coughlin. The commotion afterwards saw an almost unprecedented move as AFC Cleveland midfielder David Murrow was sent off for dissent. Two red cards for the Royals within a minute and the table was set for the Blitzers.
Yabrow, widely considered one of the NPSL’s best netminders, almost kept the Wolves at bay as Cleveland pulled together into a tight 9-man unit but a Ryan Walter blast was flagged down by an arm inside the 18 and Ian Mort (SUNY Geneseo // Rochester, N.Y.) got Yabrow moving the wrong way on the penalty kick.
The Royals had no quit in them and the match had its nervy moments during a long spell of stoppage time caused by the mid-half skirmish. Fortunately speedster Ozzy Morales (St. Lawrence University // New Providence, N.J.) latched onto a long ball less than 30 seconds after subbing on and slipped one by Yabrow to net the game’s final goal.
While FCB controlled the flow of the first half, Bell and fellow forward Tommy Schmitt (Akron) were terrors on the counter attack and needed to be parried by Coughlin on several occasions. During one rainy sequence, Coughlin pushed a ball off the post, saved the rebound and then dove back into position to halt a sitter. He was unquestionably the Man of the Match in earning FCB’s first clean sheet of 2013.
The boys will put in a light training session Saturday before taking on Zanesville Athletic in Southeastern Ohio at 3 p.m. Sunday.
In other news, merchandise director Joshua Batten put a fresh shipment of scarves up for sale. They are a new take on our first ever scarf back in 2009-10.