Nil-nil games sometimes end scoreless because lack in ambition. Not Friday night at Keyworth. AFC Ann Arbor played Detroit City to a 0-0 in a match that saw plenty of brilliant saves and loads of drama. The two in-state rivals played a spirited match with a couple of crunching tackles and opportunities on dead balls, but in the end neither side could get the winner.
AFC got the first chance in the tenth minute from a lovely move by Jack Hallahan. The Englishman wove his way in and out the Detroit defense all night and it started early in the match with a shot that forced a tip save over the bar from Owen Finnerty. Ten minutes later, it was Ian McGrane’s turn to be the hero in goal as he made a strong punching save on an out-of-the-box hit. McGrane and the AFCAA back line held firm on the corner kick that ensued, as well as a couple others prior to it.
From this point it was Detroit City who owned possession for the first half. Shawn Lawson nodded a long shot home, but he was offside. McGrane again had to make a big save in a one-on-one in the 34th and once more the corner was cleared. The Mighty Oak could settle down for the rest of the half and continue holding the clean sheet as they went back into the dressing room.
The first ten minutes of the second half were again dominated by Detroit City. AFC would win a corner thanks to a run down the right wing by Henry Ramirez, but nothing could come of it. Then, in the last half-hour, the game opened up entirely. Alex Alexis and Jack Hallahan forced a couple of necessary interventions from Finnerty in the Detroit net, but at the other end DCFC countered with a penalty won when Ben Thornton took down a DCFC man in the box. Lawson stepped up to take it, made a nice move to force McGrane to guess wrong, but drilled the post and the ball would go out of play for a goal kick.
The next ten minutes saw AFCAA get three clear cut chances. Hallahan would beat the keeper with a nice left-footed effort, but the shot went just a hair wide in the 68th minute. Then in the 71st, Hallahan again beat the keeper but it was Jalen Crisler there to make a miracle goal line clearance to keep the score line at zeroes. Finally, off the corner kick, Matt Braem, who was stellar in defense all night, saw his looping header hit the bar and go out for a goal kick.
More chances would come for The Mighty Oak, but those three were the most glorious. In the last couple minutes of the match, though, McGrane would need to come up big (quite literally) again with an unreal double save. McGrane stood on his head all night and this was yet another time he helped keep the first clean sheet for AFCAA this season. The Mighty Oak only got one point, but it was well-earned and hard-fought.
It took some time to settle into the game, nearly the full first half, and a penalty scare shook AFCAA fans surely, but the chances created were certainly worthy of at least one goal. Jack Hallahan was unbelievably dangerous all night, whether on the wing or centrally, and Amadou Cisse was able to be an impact sub on the wing once again. It was truly a team effort in all aspects, and The Mighty Oak will look to build off this positive performance into their next game – where they welcome Michigan Stars to Concordia on Memorial Day at 3 PM.