The Atlanta Silverbacks defeated the Knoxville Force 2-0 at Silverbacks Park in their fifth match of the 2017 NPSL season.
The first half started slow as the Silverbacks probed the Knoxville defense. The Force brought their numbers back and were poised to strike on the counter. Atlanta struck first in the 39’ when Joao Johanning Mora’s low shot was redirected by Dionysius “DZ” Harmon up and over the Knoxville keeper. The Silverbacks scored again in extra time when captain Mitch Garcia passed the ball to a streaking Martin Cortes down the left wing. Cortes stepped passed the Knoxville defender and squared the ball to forward Avery Shepard who put it in the back of the net. The Silverbacks went into the half leading 2-0.
Knoxville’s substitutes made an immediate impact in the second half. In the 46’, Force midfielder Ashley Kelynack pushed down the left wing and squared the ball low across the box. Substitute Kalulu Bamba met the cross with a shot that hit the bar. Later, substitute Chris Inman was able to push through the Silverbacks defense and chip the keeper only to see the ball trickle just wide of the net. Despite quality chances for the Force, Atlanta’s defense held. The head referee blew the whistle after four minutes of stoppage time: Atlanta 2 - 0 Knoxville.
The win brings the Silverbacks to 9 points and an overall record of 3-2-0. They now stand at the top of the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division table, though other teams have games in hand. The loss marks the first of the season for Knoxville, whose record falls to 1-1-2.
Knoxville have a quick turn around, hosting FC Carolina United this upcoming Tuesday in Kentucky. FC Carolina then host the Silverbacks next Saturday in South Carolina. That match is the first of a four-game road series for the Silverbacks. Atlanta’s next home match isn’t until June 24 when they play Asheville City FC.