One Knoxville SC 0 – 1 North Carolina FC
KNOXVILLE, TN—After a two-week layoff it was time for North Carolina FC to take a business trip to Tennessee to take on One Knoxville Saturday evening. Following their loss to their rivals in Charlotte, NCFC was looking to get back in form and start the middle third of their season on the right foot.
The extra week off gave head coach John Bradford’s team some time to rest and heal up a lot of those knocks his club has taken over the first one-third of the season. The refreshed lineup—with team captain Daniel Navarro back at center back—absorbed some early pressure and a nervy defensive moment before gaining control through the middle 15 minutes of the first half.
In the 11th minute, Nelson Flores Blanco—who proved quite an attacking threat in the first half—tried a shot from distance but his blast from outside the box was parried wide by goalkeeper Sean Lewis. North Carolina kept up the pressure cycling the ball around the attacking third looking to free up Rafa Mentzingen or Oalex Anderson for a scoring opportunity.
STOPPAGE TIME MAGIC
Mentzingen looked like he had the opening goal locked and loaded in the 26th minute, uncorking a shot that was tipped wide by Lewis.
Knoxville started to grow into the game late in the first half, but they were unable to put any sustained pressure on the NCFC defense and Nick Holliday was largely unbothered. Meanwhile, North Carolina’s fully-engaged attack peppered Lewis with 11 shots on goal.
With the first half ticking into stoppage time, North Carolina looked for one more opportunity. Anderson drove down the deep left flank and took on pretty much the entire One Knoxville side. A couple of times it looked like he lost the ball to the defense, only to regain possession and continue on. He pushed his way inside the box and found Jaden Servania waiting by the far post, who put away Anderson’s cross to give NCFC the 1-0 lead going into halftime.
The Dead Whales looked like they were ready to pick up where they left off in the first half, driving downfield and stirring up trouble in the Knoxville box. Anderson got on the end of a cross on the doorstep only to have Knoxville Lewis make the save in the 47th minute.
Holliday’s first big test of the night came from friendly fire. Navarro’s sliding clearing attempt had eyes for the goal, but Holliday came up with a big kick save to hold onto his shutout.
Play bogged down a bit in the second half with neither side really generating a lot of attacking opportunities through midfield. As One Knoxville’s frustration increased, so did the fouls. On the night there were 28 fouls called, with most of those happening in the second half, along with three yellow cards.
Despite the amped up physical play and a knock or two to the head, North Carolina held off One Knox for most of the second half. The home team’s best chance for a score came in the 77th minute when Jake Keegan took a great turn to open shooting space and slammed a shot toward the net, only missing the equalizer by inches.
At the final whistle, North Carolina FC packed up three points and a clean sheet to take back to Cary.
UP WHERE WE BELONG
Any point you get out of a game is a big point. But with the Charlotte Independence getting a win earlier in the day, NCFC supporters spent a few uncomfortable hours with their team in second place and third place Knoxville nipping at their heels.
With a gutsy performance and three points secured, North Carolina FC went back to the top of the table.
ONE MORE ON THE ROAD
Next up for NCFC is a trip to Madison to take on the Flamingoes on Saturday, June 10. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ beginning at 8:00 p.m. EDT. They finally make their return to the Bone Yard on Sunday, June 18 when they play Lexington SC. You can get tickets for all NCFC home games at northcarolinafc.com/tickets.
North Carolina FC (4-2-3-1): N. Holliday; C. Lue Young, D. Navarro©, G. Fernandes, N. Flores Blanco; L. Arriaga, M. Maldonado; L. Perez (D.J. Benton 88’), J. Servania, R. Mentzingen (R. Somersall 76’); O. Anderson (G. McLaughlin 77’)
One Knoxville (4-4-1-1): S. Lewis; J. Leinhos (M. Vowinkel 23’/S. Andreasen 82’), J. Crisler, J. Skelton©, D. Fernández (G. Claudio 70’); D. Waldeck (A. Selemani 82’), A. Kelly-Rosales, Y. van der Plujm, J. Villalobos; C. Johnson (F. Ross 70’); J. Keegan
North Carolina FC: 1
One Knoxville: 0
North Carolina FC: J. Servania (O. Anderson) 45+1’
One Knoxville: none
North Carolina FC: R. Somersall (YC) 90+5’
One Knoxville: M. Vowinkel (YC) 53’; C. Johnson (YC) 61’; A. Kelly-Rosales (YC) 85’