Striker Dylan George managed to find the equalizer with a blast to the low right corner in extra time of Sunday evening’s 1-1 draw with visitor CFC Azul in the Seacoast United Phantoms’ PDL home opener at Portsmouth High School. George, who also scored the game winner away at Worcester last weekend, has scored twice and added an assist in the Phantoms’ first three matches of the 2012 season.
In the opening minutes, the Phantoms easily could have found themselves in a hole. CFC sent a ball in behind the Seacoast defense to striker Ryan Kinne, who chipped goalkeeper Jon Dawson coming off his line to challenge. The ball was surely headed for the back of the net if not for Jordan Thomas’ goal-line clearance to keep the game at 0-0.
Kinne would put his team on the board later in the half when CFC crossed the ball from right to left on a restart from 30 yards. His header beat Dawson short side from close range to give Azul the 1-0 lead in the 35th minute.
CFC nearly stretched the lead to 2 before the end of the half on two separate occasions. A dangerous ball played into the box in the 41st minute to Jessie Menzies was well defended by Brad Hilton. In the 44th minute, a challenge by Phantoms defender Joey Barima had CFC once again asking the referee for a foul in the box.
Looking to even the score just prior to the break, Barima served a long ball from left to right looking for midfielder Eric Masi, whose header was sent back toward the penalty spot. Although the Phantoms had players in the area, the loose ball was cleared by CFC.
Assessing his squad’s performance early the 2nd half, head coach Iain Scott decided to change the formation to a 4-4-2 in the 68th minute, pushing Dylan George from the midfield to play striker alongside Charlie Roche. The substitution of Robbie Palumbo for Eric Masi (hamstring) was creating problems for the CFC defenders. The Phantoms were able to combine passes between Palumbo, George, Roche, and Steven Palumbo in the final third but were unable to find a shot on goal.
The Phantoms were just missing the connection to George as they pressed in the final 10 minutes on a ball over the top, and again on the ground with the ball just out of reach as it rolled to the CFC keeper.
Seacoast United stepped up the pressure to keep the ball deep in their opponents end. With 4 minutes of added time, the Phantoms pinned CFC deep to win a corner and sent everyone forward into the box, including goalkeeper Dawson. Hilton’s service from the right corner was deflected, with the ball bouncing toward the top of the 18 yd box as George found space and smashed the ball into the lower right corner of the goal. The exciting finish to even the score at 1-1 electrified the Phantoms faithful who were happy to see their team earn a point from tonight’s match.
The Seacoast United Phantoms return to action next Saturday on the road when they visit Boston Victory at Veterans Stadium in Quincy, MA on May 19th.
The Phantoms next PDL home game is Saturday, May 26th when they host Ottawa Fury at 7pm over Memorial Day weekend. All teams participating in the Nate Hardy Memorial Day Tournament, hosted by Seacoast United, will receive free admission to the match.
The Seacoast United Phantoms WPSL and NPSL teams will host a doubleheader in at the Club’s Outdoor Complex in Epping on Wednesday, May 23rd. Both teams will play the Seacoast United Mariners (ME) on field 4, with the women kicking off at 5pm, followed by the men at 7pm.