AFC Ann Arbor dropped all three points for the first time at home since July 3rd, 2016, as Grand Rapids FC topped The Mighty Oak 2-0. It was a pair of late goals from GRFC that saw AFCAA downed at Concordia. Both goals from Grand Rapids came from Samuel Biek in hard luck fashion for The Mighty Oak – a penalty and off a break with McGrane caught up for a corner – and as it turned out GRFC will walk out of this early battle at the top of the table with all three points.
The start of the match was heavy in terms of the two sides feeling each other out. Both sides had just one shot on target and neither threatened the other’s keeper too seriously. AFC’s first true chance came at the end of a strong tackle by Henry Ramirez in the 42nd minute. After winning the ball near midfield, he carried it down the wing and nearly found Yazeed Matthews for an acrobatic finish, but Matthews’s shot went just wide. While not on target, it was a promising attempt from AFCAA.
The second half started out strong in the 51st with a double-chance for The Mighty Oak. Jack Hallahan’s shot off his left foot was punched out by Joe White, the Grand Rapids keeper, and Yazeed’s chance was hard, but straight at the keeper. The Mighty Oak saw another nice chance from Sebastian Chalbaud come to fruition, but his shot was just wide. GRFC countered with TJ Ifaturoti as a sub and the dangerous forward forced a handful great saves from Ian McGrane in net.
Unfortunately for AFCAA, they would see their strong defensive efforts take a crucial blow in the 85th minute when a handball in the box gifted Grand Rapids a penalty. The taker, Samuel Biek, sent in the opposite way of McGrane’s dive, and Grand Rapids were on the board first and late in the match. AFCAA tried to equalize, and nearly found a way through thanks to a nice shot from Gary Ogilvie, but the shot was saved. The ensuing corner would see McGrane come join the attacking forces in the box but ultimately get caught out and Biek could finish off a run with a cool finish into the empty net.
The end result will feel harsh for fans of The Mighty Oak, who watched their side defend well for 85 minutes of the match. Grand Rapids were able to snag a pair of scrappy goals and snap AFCAA’s 327-minute defensive goalless streak. The Mighty Oak will be back in action this Friday, June 7th, as they visit Kalamazoo and take on KZFC for the second time this season. A quick turnaround will see them host FC Columbus on Sunday, June 9th for their second meeting of 2019.