With a shock upset of (now former) division leaders AFC Cleveland on Saturday, Greater Binghamton FC rolled into Buffalo on an overcast Father’s Day afternoon brimming with the confidence of a side that saw a prime opportunity to wash away the trauma of a disastrous first half of their maiden season with a statement win that would put them in pole position for the final spot in the Great Lakes playoffs next month in Erie.
FC Buffalo, reeling from a demoralizing and thorough defeat to Detroit City FC the previous evening were simply looking to stop the bleeding from several weeks of key injuries, suspensions and poor results. The Great Lakes basement battle, however, did nothing but prolong the questions and tension of the final few weeks as the two struggling sides battled to a 1-1 draw at All High Stadium.
GBFC looked the worse for the Saturday night travel wear as Buffalo bossed play early on. A Binghamton defensive gaffe in the middle of the park nearly gave FC Buffalo a dream start as a 2 on 1 opportunity materialized for Gary Boughton and Kendell McFayden. Boughton sprung McFayden forward, however, the reply was lacking as the normally excellent McFayden botched the return pass, rolling harmlessly into the arms of the Binghamton keeper.
The trio of Boughton, McFayden and Mike Reidy performed admirably, but fruitlessly in the next 30 minutes, working to seize control for the home side. Reidy continued to impress with nice runs but both times he was taken off the ball abruptly by the Binghamton backline. McFayden and Boughton attempted more interplay but this time Boughton’s pass to McFayden couldn’t find the mark. Reidy played a brilliant cross into open space, unfortunately no blue shirt was there to finish the play and the score remained even after 35 minutes.
Despite the numerous chances FC Buffalo was able to generate, Binghamton was the first team to light up the All High scoreboard. Mike Spadine was able beat his mark after a nice through ball from Chris Riley to finish past Eric Dehond and take a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute. Another game, another mostly undeserved early deficit for Buffalo; you can almost set your watch to it.
As per usual, McFayden became the man looking to put the team on his back and begin the fight back as he created another chance to net the equalizer. A powerful header went just wide in first half stoppage time, bringing us into the break with Binghamton leading FC Buffalo by a score of 1-0. A feeling of dread swept over the subdued Buffalo partisans as the prospect of being in 5th place within the next hour became frighteningly realistic.
The lone substitution at the half was by FC Buffalo as Josh Hall entered the game on the backline for Jake Rinow. Shortly thereafter we were treated to what was not only the goal of the season for FC Buffalo, but possibly the most spectacular goal scored in the 3 year history of the club.
Mike Reidy, a reliable bright spot for the season so far, went above and beyond on the equalizer scoring a goal that would fit in amongst the best the big European leagues have to offer. Harkening back to Maradona’s run against England in Mexcio ’86, Reidy swerved and weaved his way through at least 5 Binghamton defenders before depositing the ball cleanly into the net to the delight of the enraptured home crowd. This was Reidy’s 3rd goal on the season and 8th total as a Blitzer. His 3 goals currently put him at the top of the Blitzer stat sheet, tied with McFayden.
The balance of the half saw both teams substitute liberally given the overcast but steamy late spring weather. Andy Tiedt and John Grabowski both came off after playing a majority of the minutes in the weekend tilts. Aside from a brief skirmish at midfield after a hard tackle on Ryan Walter which saw yellows handed to both sides, there was little in the way of scoring opportunities. Reidy had one final chance in the 88th minute but was taken off the ball in the box. The referee looked at his watch and called time on an indecisive match.
The result kept both teams even at 6 points on the season and FC Buffalo remaining in 4th based on goal differential with a game in hand. 3 of the 4 remaining games for FC Buffalo will come on the road while the final 3 games for GBFC come on home soil. This includes a massively important return match on July 1st between the 2 sides in Binghamton which could determine who gets the final playoff spot, and who goes home empty handed.
The next FC Buffalo match will be against the hated Erie Admirals this Friday evening, while the home finale comes on Saturday June 30th as they take on Detroit City FC at 7pm at All-High Stadium.
FC Buffalo XI: Dehond, Rinow (Hall 46’), Snelgrove, Zelko (Tor 72’), Grabowski (Lynch 80’), Cwiklinski, Boughton (C. Walter 60’), R. Walter, Reidy, Tiedt (Rouse 69’), McFayden
Report compiled by @jfabin15