The stories of soccer seasons are written in the ink of patterns and repetition. With half of the 2012 FC Buffalo season completed and only one win to show, there have been several refrains as common as any song from The Situation Room: Shots off the woodwork; Missing the final ball; Good possession play with nothing to show for it, set piece chances wasted…the beat has gone on in frustrating fashion for a club that, for all intents & purposes, should probably have more than just 5 points and a tentative grasp on the final playoff spot in the Great Lakes Division standings.
Sunday afternoon continued the Groundhog Day like narrative of familiar ailments as FC Buffalo dropped a 1-3 decision to the same Erie side that won a massively controversial Friday evening match in Buffalo that saw Josiah Snelgrove sent to the hospital with a broken jaw.
The match kicked off in favor of Erie as Buffalo conceded several fouls early deep in their own defensive third. A deflected corner was played back into the box in the 8th minute, falling to the feet of noted Buffalo tormentor, Afrim Latifi who sent a shot past the immobile legs of an FC Buffalo defensive line looking towards the linesman for a goal negating offsides flag.
It was not to come, however, as Latifi wheeled away in celebration to taunt the vocal traveling contingent of around 25 Buffalo fans near the Eastern end of the stadium.
With their lips bloodied, FC Buffalo came back in the 14th minute with a headed effort off of a free kick in the Erie third that just managed to nick the underside of the crossbar. It did not, however, take the fortuitous bounce that the Admirals were privileged to receive earlier in the match.
In the 21st minute, Chris Walter drew a yellow card about 40 yards from the FC Buffalo net. A lofted effort into the box caught FCB keeper Eric DeHond flat footed after he misjudged the flighted pass. Buffalo fans & players looked on in horror as the ball just grazed over DeHond’s outstretched fingers, bouncing lazily into the net and setting off another wild celebration for the Pennsylvanians.
With the deficit multiplied, Buffalo resumed their role as designated game chasers, pressing the issue on the back of brilliant all around play from Kendell McFayden. The Williamsville native was automatic in aerial defense and bombed forward down the left wing, keying off one of Buffalo’s more quality looks toward goal before the halftime whistle.
Wingers Mike Reidy & Gary Boughton looked to be more involved as well, getting touches on the ball and springing attacking moves forward as the interval drew closer. Penetrating runs towards opposition full backs have been in plentiful supply this year, yet final passes into the area and decisive play in the opponent’s 18 has been lacking.
With the departure of Mike Unwin to the PDL, it’s evident so far this season that the lack of a true center forward able to hold up play and power through central defenses has been the undoing of Buffalo’s finishing prowess.
Coming out of the dressing rooms for the second half, Buffalo drew an early corner yet the effort went over the bar. Coming back up the pitch, Erie put a bow on the match with a demoralizing 49th minute marker as a run down the right wing was played into Shane Howard who calmly volleyed the opportunity into the Buffalo goal, unmarked.
Desperate for a spark, McFayden was pushed up to center forward, becoming a dangerous option for Buffalo as he drew the attention of nearly the entire Erie defensive corps at times. His activity was rewarded in the 65th minute as an Erie defender tugged on his shirt a bit too liberally in the area during a free kick, leading the referee to point to the spot and a chance for Buffalo to possibly salvage a point.
Captain Gary Boughton stepped up to take but over thought his strike as he opted for placement rather than power. The soft attempt grazed the outside of the left post as it dribbled harmlessly out of play, keeping the score at 1-3.
Nursing multiple knocks and a shaken psyche, Boughton was subbed off soon after as Ordonez was brought on. Buffalo finally made a breakthrough in the 73rd minute as Andy Tiedt connected on a Mike Reidy corner, cleanly beating his mark and giving the away side some semblance of hope going into the final 15 minutes as the traveling Buffalo supporters roared their approval.
The dramatic fight back was not to be, however, as the Buffalo goal concluded the scoring on the afternoon – Erie proceeded to take the proverbial air out of the ball as legs on both sides grew heavy in the afternoon heat. A late McFayden break away on goal was placed to the right of the post as the referee called time on a frustrating afternoon for the Western New Yorkers.
The loss leaves Buffalo in 4th place in the Great Lakes Conference; 5 points behind Erie with one more match played than their I-90 rivals. Things do not get easier as a trip to a raucous Cass Tech Stadium for a match against 2nd place Detroit City FC looms this Saturday. Buffalo will have to be sharp as Sunday offers an absolutely vital turnaround match against 5th place Binghamton in a Father’s Day matinee. A loss to the Great Lakes bottom feeders would tie them with FC Buffalo and put the prospects of playoffs in serious jeopardy.
FC Buffalo XI: Dehond (Wagstaff 46’); Schroen, Hall, McFayden, Tor; C. Walter (Carcaterro 83’), Reidy, Cwiklinski (Scirto 73’), Tiedt, Boughton (Ordonez 67’); Rouse (Grabowski 46’)
Great Lakes Conference Standings as of 6/10
|Midwest-Great Lakes Conference||Pts||GP||W||T||L||GF||GA||GD|
|2.||Detroit City FC||12||7||3||3||1||14||4||10|
|5.||Greater Binghamton FC||2||7||0||2||5||3||19||-16|