After a weeklong break in NPSL play, AFC Ann Arbor hit the road to take on Lansing United. AFC Ann Arbor head coach Eric Rudland was making his first return to his former club, and after last weeks 2-1 loss to Michigan Stars FC, The Mighty Oak were looking to remain on top of the NPSL Great Lakes West Table.
In the opening 20 minutes AFC threatened often. There were three legitimate goal-scoring opportunities for The Mighty Oak early on. If not for the heroics of Lansing United keeper Jimmy Hague in the first half, the score line would have looked a lot different.
The last 15 minutes of the first half saw Lansing grow in confidence. Chances started coming fast for United and in the 38th minute an effort in the AFC box hit the crossbar, but stayed out.
The second half kicked off in much the same way as the first. The Mighty Oak were controlling possession and dictating for long spells. The heat was a big factor for both sides and substitutes started coming quickly for AFC. First Jake Rufe came in, and then Jermaine Windster was introduced. A few minutes later J.P. Rylah came on, followed by James Vaughn and Tristan Jacob. All the substitutes would prove to pay dividends for The Mighty Oak just minutes later.
Substitute Tristan Jacob won a corner for AFC in the 73rd minute after his effort was deflected past the end line. Bruno Oliveria jogged to take the corner. His corner was a long curving effort and after flying over everyone’s head in the Lansing box, it nestled neatly inside the far post to give AFC Ann Arbor a crucial 1-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
One final substitution followed, Leigh Rumbold came off and Zach Pagani took his place. The fresh legs throughout the team paid off, and AFC Ann Arbor closed out a vital away victory, 1-0.
Speaking to the impact the substitutes had in the match, AFC Coach Eric Rudland said “I thought those guys changed the game for us, honestly. In the second half we got a little bit heavy legged, we weren’t as sharp, but Jermaine came on, Rufe came on, J.P. came on. Tristan, Zach Pagani. Every guy who came on took the game to the next level”
The result leaves AFC Ann Arbor on top of the NPSL Great Lakes West table with 13 points from 6 games.
A quick rest and turnaround sees The Mighty Oak head to Dayton for another clash with Dayton Dynamo on Sunday June 12th at 1:00 pm.