Mighty Oak Win NPSL Home Opener 2-1

AFC Ann Arbor welcomed a new season in a new league at Hollway Field, as the Mighty Oak took on the Dayton Dynamo. The inaugural match for the club was an exciting affair, as AFC grabbed a 2-1 win over Dayton.

AFC put in a dominating performance, holding possession for large spells of the first half. The first chance came in the 13th minute, Dario Suarez played an excellent one-two with Hector Morales, and upon receiving the return pass, he fired his shot just over the cross bar.

A free kick in the 21st minute was the next good chance for the Mighty Oak. Dario stepped up to take it, and again couldn’t find the back of the net, this time smashing a hard shot off the crossbar.

Dayton looked to hit back, and took a few shots on Fabian Veit in the Mighty Oak net, however only one shot was on target, and Fabian saved easily.

Dario was again on the attack, and put several crosses and shots into the box, that ultimately didn’t do the trick for the Mighty Oak.

In the 41st minute it was Yuri Farkas’ turn to hit the crossbar, after beating his defender well in the opposition box, his effort could only find the woodwork.

There was a serious penalty shot for AFC near the end of the first half, as Yuri Farkas looked to be dragged down in the box, but the referee was unimpressed by the appeal, and pointed for an AFC corner.

The ensuing corner saw a mad scramble in the box, and the ball was put in the back of the net, though it had gone out of play first, and soon after the referee blew the whistle for half time.

The second half could not have started worse for AFC. After some miscommunication between the backline and the goalkeeper in the 46th minute, Dayton striker Marc Hansson seized an opportunity, rounded the keeper, and put the Dynamo up 1-0.

The Mighty Oak responded well to the pressure, and in the 64th minute, won a free kick just inside the opposition half. Jack Smith stepped up and pinged a beautiful fifty-yard ball that found an unmarked Lars Eckenrode in the box, and he buried the header to level the match.

More chances came and went until, in the 79th minute, Yuri Farkas was slipped in on goal and, after seeing his initial attempted saved, he coolly slotted home at the second time of asking to give AFC Ann Arbor a 2-1 lead with just minutes to go.

In the final ten minutes, Dayton pressed hard for an equalizer, but ultimately threatened the Mighty Oak net little. After 3 minutes of added time, the referee blew his whistle for the final time, and AFC Ann Arbor grabbed a crucial 2-1 victory in their first NSPL match.

Audi Ann Arbor Man of the Match Yuri Farkas was happy with his first NPSL goal of the 2016 season. “I was excited to be able to help the team, so it’s a great victory.” He said.

 AFC Manager Eric Rudland was proud of his team’s response, despite going down 1-0 early in the second half, saying “I thought our response was very good, […] We just kept playing and we found a way to equalize the match and come up with a goal at the end so, it was a good first match at home there’s no doubt about that.”

This was the first time that the two sides met, and tactically this posed a challenge for the Mighty Oak, but Coach Rudland was ready. “They sat in quite well. In the first half when we threw numbers forward, I thought that we were able to create a lot of joy in the wide channels with Bruno on the left and Dario and Jake Rosen getting forward on the right, So I thought we created some good numbers in the attack. [Dayton] sat in and they held quite well. In the second half they made a few tactical changes to chase the game, and all in all I thought it was a good tactical battle back and forth between two sides, so it was a fun second half.”

AFC will be looking to carry on the positivity at Hollway Field on Friday, May 13th, when they host Kalamazoo FC at 7:00 pm.