Photo courtesy: Eakin Howard
The Men of Asheville opened up their USL2 campaign with a win over the East Atlanta Dutch Lions at Greenwood Field on Saturday May 20th.
The first bit of danger came in the 11th minute, when Alex Andersson collected a throw-in on the left flank and sent a low-driven cross into the box but East Atlanta’s goalkeeper Travis McMullen was able to scoop it up before a Blue could get a foot on it.
That was not the only bit of danger that Andersson caused however. In the 20th minute, he received a through ball in the middle of the pitch on the attacking side from Franc Gamiz. Andersson dribbled right and created enough space between him and the defender to fire an effort past the outstretched glove of McMullen to give Asheville a 1-0 lead.
“He’s come highly recommended by some of the guys I trust the most in the game and he showed it tonight. He was fantastic for us and what a great individual goal,” said Head Coach Scott Wells.
The next big chance came for Asheville in the 34th minute when a curling corner kick by ALex Horveno forced a diving punch from McMullen to keep the game in reach for East Atlanta.
The Dutch Lions created their first dangerous chance in the 38th minute, when a free kick found Owen Travis free in the middle of the 6 for a header that forced a miraculous diving save out Jarrett Payne from point-blank range.
Asheville would have one more major chance before the half when Alexis Ledoux found Andersson streaking towards the back post but the Swede’s header glanced the outside of the post for an East Atlanta goal kick.
Things remained mostly quiet in the 2nd half for both sides until the 73rd minute when Kieran Richards tested the East Atlanta keeper with a curling effort from the outside of the box towards the bottom right corner but McMullen stood equal to the task.
Just a minute later, a nice combination play from Ledoux and Juan Ballas led to a Ballas shot from the edge of the box but McMullen was able to get down in time to palm it away.
In the 78th minute, an incisive through ball put Max Miller in on goal who tried rounding McMullen but the keeper was able to get down in time to keep East Atlanta in the game.
Caio Alexander stepped up to take the corner and picked out Franc Gamiz with an inswinging ball which he headed home inside of the near post to extend Asheville’s lead to 2-0.
“He’s fantastic. He’s a player that’s got a very bright future. So I think he’s going to be a real key for us to get it done this season,” said Wells.
For his efforts on the night, Alex Andersson was awarded the Highland Brewing Wishing Star of the Match.
Up next for the Men, a 3-game road strip starts off with a date with Tennessee SC in Franklin, Tennessee.
The Women return to Greenwood Field on Wednesday, May 24 when they welcome in NC Courage.