CARY, N.C. (August 4, 2018) – North Carolina FC extended its unbeaten streak to five matches and picked up a point in the Southern Derby by playing to a 0-0 draw against the Charleston Battery Saturday night at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
With the result, NCFC improved to 7W-8L-6D (27 points) on the season, and now heads into a trio of road games just three points out of playoff position.
Facing a Charleston side that had won its prior four contests since drawing 1-1 against NCFC last month, NCFC coach Colin Clarke was pleased to see his team hold its own in a hard-fought contest against one of the USL’s most in-form squads.
“It was two teams that in the past few weeks had been playing pretty well, getting good results. You can see why. There wasn’t a lot created, not a lot of clear-cut (opportunities),” Clarke said. “We probably had the better of the chances, failed to take them – hit crossbar off a deflection, two free headers.”
Scoring chances were few and far between for much of the night, but both teams had a couple of opportunities early on.
In the 6th minute, NCFC’s Austin da Luz teed up his own shot and nearly volleyed it into the left side of the net from beyond the 18-yard box.
After Charleston forward and joint USL leading scorer Ataulla Guerra nearly put the visitors ahead in the 26th minute, NCFC had a great opportunity of its own five minutes later, but Kyle Bekker’s left-footed effort was turned away by Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky.
There were no goals to show for as the two teams headed to their respective locker rooms at halftime, but NCFC looked intent on changing that out of the break.
In the 52nd minute, left back Aaron Guillen played in a cross from the left flank that forward Daniel Rios got a head on, challenging Kuzminsky, who bobbled the shot but ultimately gathered.
Just three minutes after Rios’ chance, midfielder Steven Miller saw his deflected shot rattle off the crossbar, inches away from being the game’s first goal.
Charleston’s O’Brian Woodbine had an opportunity to put his team ahead on a free kick in the 67th minute from a few yards beyond the area, but his effort landed comfortably in the hands of NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis.
From that point on, much of the match was played between the two boxes, but second-half substitute Marios Lomis came close to heading home a game-winner off a Bekker service two minutes into stoppage time.
Minutes later, NCFC secured its fifth clean sheet of the season.
NCFC hits the road and begins a three-game road trip at the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Al Lang Stadium. NCFC has not faced Tampa since its season opener on March 17.
Lomis’ headed near-goal punctuated NCFC’s sustained stretch of offensive pressure, allowing the team to control the action and secure an important point.
Fact to know:
NCFC held Charleston to only one shot on target.
They Said It:
“Obviously when you play at home, you want three points and we weren’t able to get it. But we played pretty well at points [of the game]. The first half was good, and at the beginning of the second half, they took over a little bit. That’s a very good team that we played. We probably had the better of it for the majority of the game and it didn’t go our way. It happens. But it was a fair result. We’d like three points, but we’ll take one.” – Steven Miller.
– NCFC improved to 5W-4L-3D at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
– Saturday’s match was NCFC’s first in this year’s Southern Derby, a three-team competition involving NCFC, Charleston and the Charlotte Independence, with the title going to the team that accumulates the most points in matches played between the three teams. Although NCFC defeated Charlotte in April and drew Charleston in July, those matches do not count for Southern Derby purposes, because NCFC plays both Charleston and Charlotte three times in 2018, while Charleston and Charlotte play each other twice.
– NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis earned his fifth shutout of the season, the first since May 25 against Atlanta United 2.
– Wuilito Fernandes, Tiyi Shipalane and Marios Lomis each appeared as second-half substitutes.
– Wuilito Fernandes’ 38 minutes played Saturday were a season-high.
– NCFC recorded five shots on target.
NCFC (4-4-2): Alex Tambakis; Aaron Guillen, Michael Harrington (Wuilito Fernandes, 62’), Connor Tobin ©, DJ Taylor (Marios Lomis, 90’); Steven Miller, Austin da Luz, Graham Smith, Kyle Bekker, Donovan Ewolo (Tiyi Shipalane, 70’); Daniel Rios
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Peabo Doue, Dre Fortune, Marcel Kandziora
CHS (3-4-3): Joe Kuzminsky; Skylar Thomas, Taylor Mueller ©, Neveal Hackshaw; O’Brian Woodbine (Jay Bolt, 70’), Tah Atunga, Angelo Kelly, Jarad van Schaik; Nico Rittmeyer (Gordon Wild, 75’), Ataulla Guerra (Victor Mansaray, 90’+), Kotaro Higashi
Subs not used: Odisinel Cooper, Ryan Arambula, Vincenzo Candela, Patrick Okonkwo
CHS: Ataulla Guerra 44’