CINCINNATI (September 17, 2016) – In the third match of a four-game road trip, Orlando City B (8-13-8, 32 points) fell 1-0 to FC Cincinnati (15-6-8, 53 points) Saturday night at Nippert Stadium. OCB remains one point ahead of Wilmington for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with one game remaining in the regular season.
“It was one of the best performances we’ve had this season. We missed six clear-cut chances, totally dominated the possession and defended really well. The players deserve a good amount of credit. We changed the system tonight and the way [the players] bought in and executed the gameplan and adapted to the system was fantastic to see,” OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis said. “Obviously we are on the road again [next match] and it is not going to be easy. If we can approach the game with the same mentality and perform how we did tonight then we will give ourselves a really good chance of making that final spot.”
OCB created plenty of opportunities and showed a strong defensive display in the first half. The Lions nearly opened the scoring in the 17th minute when forward Michael Cox took advantage of a weak Cincinnati clearance with a volley towards goal, but goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt was there to stop Cox from his 12th goal of the year. A minute later, midfielder Lewis Neal hit a shot outside the box that flew just wide of the post.
The Lions were able to thwart Cincinnati’s attack with the strong play of goalkeeper Mark Ridgers, who entered the match leading the United Soccer League (USL) with 96 saves. In the 36th minute, Ridgers quickly dove to his left to force a corner. The Scotsman then stopped the ensuing strike just inside the box. Defenders Zach Hayden and Conor Donovan also denied two Cincinnati goal-scoring opportunities in the first half with a pair of clean slide tackles inside the box.
The strong defensive performance continued in the 54th minute when Ridgers stopped a point-blank strike that OCB midfielder Johnny Mendoza quickly took down the field on the counterattack. 17 minutes later, the Lions nearly converted on their best chance of the game after Cox headed a cross from the left flank straight to Neal, who nearly found the far post with a right-footed strike.
The Lions kept the home side off the scoreboard until the 81st minute when second-half substitute Casey Townsend flicked home the only goal of the game after an Erik Stevenson left-footed cross. OCB continued its pressure and nearly caught Hildebrandt off his line after he punched away a Harrison Heath free kick in stoppage time but Cincinnati was able to clear the danger.
Orlando City B holds a one-point lead on the Wilmington Hammerheads for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with one game remaining. The Lions will play their regular season finale on Sunday, Sept. 25, when they travel to Bethlehem for a 3:00 p.m. ET kickoff.
FCC - Casey Townsend (Erik Stevenson) 81’
FCC - Erik Stevenson (Yellow Card) 48’
FCC - Harrison Delbridge (Yellow Card) 51’
FCC - Pat McMahon (Yellow Card) 61’
FCC - Casey Townsend (Yellow Card) 90’
Orlando City B - GK Mark Ridgers, D Tyler Turner, Kyle McFadden, Conor Donovan, Zach Hayden, M Harrison Heath, Lewis Neal, Johnny Mendoza (Marius Obekop 84’) , Andrew Ribeiro, Pierre Da Silva, F Michael Cox
Substitutes: GK Jake Fenlason, D Devron García, M Alejandro Garcia, F Richie Laryea, Keegan Smith
FC Cincinnati - GK Mitch Hildebrandt, D Pat McMahon, Austin Berry, Harrison Delbridge, Tyler Polak (Derek Luke 76’), M Corben Bone, Kenney Walker (Casey Townsend 65’), Paul Nicholson (Erik Stevenson 46’), F Jimmy McLaughlin, Sean Okoli (Evan Lee 87’), Andrew Wiedeman
Substitutes: GK Dallas Jaye, M Ross Tomaselli, F Alvaro Ripoll
Details of the Game
Time: 7 30 p.m. ET
Date: September 17, 2016
OCB - 7
FCC - 17
OCB - 5
FCC - 2
OCB - 5
FCC - 5