Atlanta’s goalkeeping errors gift FC Edmonton a victory By Steven Sandor Posted on May 12, 2013 2 0 807 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter The Atlanta Silverbacks self-destructed, and FC Edmonton picked up the pieces. The Eddies are now just three points back of the NASL-leading Carolina RailHawks as they hit the midway mark of the NASL spring season with a 3-0 lead over the Silverbacks in front of 1,161 fans at Clarke Stadium. The Silverbacks, which came into Sunday averaging 2.5 goals per game, dominated early, but Pedro Mendes, Jahbari Willis and Milton Blanco all missed the goal on point-blank chances in front of Eddies’ keeper Lance Parker. And, if the Silverbacks weren’t poor enough on the front end, their goalkeeping put them in dire straits. The game turned on what seemed like an innocent looking play. Chris Nurse, who was the Eddies’ most effective midfielder, sent a long ball upfield for striker Michael Cox. The Eddies’ striker was running with defender Mike Randolph for the ball, as keeper Joe Nasco came out to play it. Randolph, for some reason, decided to peel off. Nasco, left alone to deal with the charging Cox, came out and handled the ball outside of the box before the Eddie could make the touch. It looked as if Nasco was confused by the football lines on the Clarke turf and got the yellow soccer lines and white football lines mixed up. He was genuinely surprised when he got the red card for handling outside the area. Nasco was replaced by Eric Ati in goal, who threw gasoline on the fire. After Lance Laing struck the bar on the ensuing free kick, Ati could only watch helplessly in the 39th minute as FCE striker Daryl Fordyce scored an outstanding headed goal off a low cross from Laing. Fordyce was parallel to the ground as he met the ball, and headed it back across his body even though he was in the air. It was a fantastic mix of strength and skill from the Northern Irish striker. “Lance got a great ball in,” said Fordyce. “As a forward, you always try to make two runs. One, for the defender, and the other for yourself. I made the first run and I saw that I got space between myself and the defender (Martyn Lancaster). I made the run towards the ball and headed it across myself.” Chris Nurse collects the ball against the Silverbacks. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON That goal, Ati could do very little about. The next goal, however… In the 41st minute, Ati came well out of his box to play a bouncing ball. But he badly misjudged the ball, and it hopped over him. Cox took it in the box and rolled it in. Within the space of 10 minutes, both Atlanta goalkeepers had conspired to throw away a game that Atlanta was looking good to get a result out of. “With the way we’re giving away gifts, it feels more like Christmas Day than Mother’s Day,” said Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes at halftime. Haynes was clearly unhappy about the officiating, and even from the broadcast booth it was easy to spot he and his team were unhappy with Nurse, who was like a human wrecking ball in the first half. After a series of crunching challenges from Nurse, Atlanta midfielder Borfor Carr had to leave the game before halftime. It didn’t take long after the the break for the Eddies to rub salt in the wound. After a lovely diagonal ball from Nurse found Robert Garrett down the left wing, the Northern Irish midfielder sent a cross into Cox, who controlled it on his chest and then sent an overhead kick floating over Ati and into the goal. “It was instinct,” Cox said of his goal. FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller said he wanted his team to be “ruthless” after it went up a man. After all, with the spring season being only 12 games in length, a race for first could come down to goal difference. And hurting one team’s GD while padding your own may not be sportsmanlike, but it is necessary. But, the game’s pace slowed down in the 27 C heat, and it was Atlanta who had the best chance late in the match. But Parker reacted quickly after Mendes found himself alone in the box. As Mendes moved to volley the bouncing ball, Parker laid out like a football special teams player looking to block a punt. He got all of the ball and then saved the follow-up chance. The Eddies now have a week off, but the team can now work on promoting itself. The new stands that brought the capacity at Clarke to 4,000 were only approved by the city on Thursday night. That meant the team couldn’t actually sell the seats before Thursday night without running the risk of annoying the City of Edmonton, which owns Clarke. But, with a deal with Rogers in place that sees nine games on Sportsnet on The Score (which began with Sunday’s game) and a partnership in promoting the club, the franchise can now advertise itself.