The rivalry between the Silverbacks Reserves and Chattanooga FC continued with a hard fought scoreless draw in Chattanooga on Saturday night. Each team had a player sent off in the first half, playing 10 v. 10 for the majority of the match. The draw keeps the Silverbacks Reserves in first place in the Eastern half of the NPSL South Region.
The sea of light blue-clad Chattahooligans lowered their horns and fell quiet for the only moment of the match as the referee issued red cards in the 20th minute to both the Reserves’ Junior Sandoval and Chattanooga FC’s Luis Trude during a squabble following an injury to the Reserves’ Janny Rivera. The cards, issued early in the first half, would plague both teams for the remainder of the match.
The ten remaining players for the Silverbacks were forced to cover extra space, but despite their inevitable fatigue, the Reserves maintained Coach Ricardo Montoya’s quick style of play, making fast, aggressive decisions and winning balls in the midfield. The Reserves stayed hot during the first half, with a dangerous shot from defender Chris Duvall that hit the crossbar in the 32nd minute. CFC answered minutes later with a gasp-eliciting cross just wide of the goal. The Silverbacks ended the first 45 minutes with five shots and four fouls, fairly even with the home team’s four shots and three fouls.
The Silverbacks continued to take advantage of the additional field space in the second half. Joao Mora’s breakaway and pass to Duvall gave Atlanta a 1v1 between Duvall and CFC goalie Greg Hartley, who was forced to come out of his net and deflect the Silverback shot. In the 75th minute, CFC fouled the Silverbacks’ Ryan King at the edge of the box; defender Ryan Roushandel took the free kick, sending a rocket into the lower right corner of the net, which a diving Hartley just barely denied.
The Reserves kept the spark alive even in the dwindling seconds of the game, when Nick Burton's shot was tipped over the bar by CFC goalkeeper Greg Hartley in the 88th minute, followed by a corner to Gyawu’s head that just could not find the back of the net. To the dismay of the home team’s roaring crowd, the Silverbacks kept CFC at zero on the scoreboard, and Atlanta, who had yet to score fewer than two goals this season, finished scoreless as well. Despite the undesirable 0-0 outcome, both teams left all they had on the field, and the Atlanta-Chattanooga rivalry will undoubtedly remain as strong as ever.
The Reserves, now 3-0-1, will host defending league champions Jacksonville United on Friday, June 8 at 7:00 p.m at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. The game will be the first of consecutive matches between the teams, with the Reserves traveling to Jacksonville on June 16.
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