AFC Ann Arbor travelled west Friday evening to face Grand Rapids FC. GRFC came into the game in first place in the NPSL Great Lakes West, with AFC hot on their heels. A win would have likely secured a postseason berth for The Mighty Oak, but it was not to be as Grand Rapids strengthened their grip on first place, winning 3-1.
The first half was tight, with both sides struggling to gain dominance in the match. AFC saw plenty of the ball, but the better chances came for Grand Rapids. Several of their efforts would have certainly found their way into the back of the net if it weren't for the goalkeeping heroics of AFC's Peter Tappenden. Peter was immense throughout the match, but particularly in the first half, in which he made several excellent saves. The sides went into the break level at 0-0.
The second half started brightly for The Mighty Oak, and straight from the kick off AFC won a corner. Captain Leigh Rumbold made it count and buried the header in at the back post. 1-0.
The lead didn't last long though, and Grand Rapids fought their way back into the match from a long throw in. GRFC defender Trent Vegter's monster throw in made it all the way to the AFC back post where Jared Timmer headed in to level the scores. 1-1.
In the 75th minute, Grand Rapids scored again to take the lead. Second half substitute Noble Sullivan capitalized on a broken down play and rounded Peter Tappenden to slide in Grand Rapids' second goal of the match. 2-1.
With only 15 minutes to play, The Mighty Oak had to press hard to get back in the match. However, this pressing left some gaps at the back and in the last minute of normal time, Grand Rapids took their chance again. In a one-on-one with Peter Tappenden, Gabe Mateo made sure the result would hold, as he found the back of the net to make it 3-1, GRFC.
AFC kept fighting until the last minute, but in the end it wasn't enough to avoid a bitter away defeat.
The Audi of Ann Arbor Man of the Match was Captain Leigh Rumbold. Leigh scored a good goal and dominated the middle of pitch for The Mighty Oak.
In a busy weekend, AFC will play their next NPSL match on Sunday away against Kalamazoo FC. The next home match at Hollway Field for the Mighty Oak is on Friday July 15th, at 7:00pm, against Columbus Crew CP.