National Premier Soccer League | 19 May 2018 | Stockton University, NJ | Scorer: Allison 8.
The Stars continued their excellent start to the 2018 NPSL season with a 1-0 win away to Atlantic City FC this afternoon with Allison scoring the only goal of the game.
After a successful first weekend of action that saw the Stars dominant over Torch FC while Atlantic City FC won their debut match, both teams were poised for a cloudy afternoon of competitive soccer at the Stockton University Turf Field in New Jersey.
It didn't take long for the fireworks to begin as the Aces showed their intentions of being very physical at the first whistle when the young academy prodigy Kanibah Kutu-Akoi was fouled hard to the ground immediately after kickoff. Both benches erupted but cool heads prevailed soon after the trainers left the pitch.
The Aces settled into the game much quicker and began to dominate early, creating couple of chances which resulted in the first corner of the game that was well defended by the Stars.
In the 8th minute, on a counter, the young skillful winger Kutu-Akoi, found himself isolated one-on-one on the far-right side of the pitch and after feinting inside to set up his marker on his left, he pushed the ball on his right foot and laid it off far post where his captain Anthony Allison was waiting for a simple tap in to put the Stars 1-0 ahead. This was Allison's fourth goal of the season after scoring a hat-trick on opening day.
The Aces continued with their physical play and took advantage of every chance to disrupt the smooth flow of play from the Stars. The strategy worked as the Stars looked shaken throughout the first half. Defensively however, the Stars were solid and were able to stand up to a late first half onslaught from the Aces to keep the score at 1-0 at half-time.
After a quick 15 minutes of half time talk by both coaching staff, the second half began.
The Aces made a tactical adjustment by switching to a three-man back-line and using true wing-backs to pin back the Stars’ dangerous wingers, Nyakeh Kamara and Kutu-Akoi. This left the Stars wing-backs playing more on defense than offense. With their halftime adjustments, the Aces were able to dominate the first 15 minutes of the second half.
It took the Stars awhile to adjust to the new tactics implored by the Aces but the Stars' coaching staff countered tactically by making key well-timed substitutions with Foray Thoronka replacing a tiring Kutu-Akoi and Amadou Sheriff replacing an injured Thaimu Turay. With those two substitutions, the momentum swung back in the Stars favor and this was evidenced by a clear cut chance created for Allison who skied his header from point-blank range.
The game became a physical midfield battle with both teams having rare attacking chances. This was the case until in the 85th minute when defender Abu Donzo was issued a second yellow card and his marching order from the referee.
Playing with a man advantage for the lasts five minutes, the Aces pressured the Stars and created a couple of chances but could not find the equalizer.
At the end of a grueling 90 minutes, the Stars survived what felt like a heavyweight boxing match with the 1-0 win.
Speaking after the win, assistant coach Thomas George said: “They all don’t have to be pretty as long as you collect the maximum points! We are happy for the win and the three points!”
Stars: Monyan; Donzo, T. Turay (Sheriff 69) , N'Guessan, Koroma; Y. Fane, Joe (A. Fane 84); Kutu-Akoi (Thoronka 56), Dennis, Kamara (Torh 85); Allison (C).
Subs not used: Jacobs, Freitas, Walleekendeh.
Scorers: Allison (8).
Booked: Donzo (68, 89 sent off 89), N'Guessan (70).
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE STARS?
With a 2-0-0 record, the Stars will now prepare for another big game next week when they welcome another New Jersey powerhouse FC Motown on Saturday, May 26th at 6:00pm at the South Philadelphia Super Site.
FC Motown began their season with a 3-0 win at home against FC Monmouth. The team has two MLS vets Dilly Duka and Hunter Freeman. They reached the second round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup 3-1 to Penn FC of the USL on Wednesday.
Tickets for this match is now on sale for only a $5 donation and can be purchased at https://juniorlonestarfc.ticketleap.com/stars-v-motown/
CONTRIBUTOR: Neewilli Saie