North Carolina FC 2 – 2 Forward Madison FC
CARY, NC—Games against Forward Madison FC haven’t come easy for North Carolina FC, and Saturday evening’s matchup was no exception. Oalex Anderson’s second-half brace brought the Dead Whales back from an 0-2 deficit to earn a point against the Flamingos.
Madison came into Saturday night’s match leading the season series 2-0 and looking to close out the series, while NCFC wanted to grab its first points from Forward Madison in 2023.
The game started with plenty of end-to-end action, with both sides feeling each other out. Forward Madison had the first good chance of the night in the 10th minute when Christian Chaney got on the end of a ball lofted over midfield. He pushed to get behind the North Carolina defense to get 1v1 with Trevor Mulqueen. But Daniel Navarro did enough to disrupt Chaney allowing the NCFC keeper to parry away his goal-scoring attempt.
Forward Madison moved the ball around really well throughout the first half, and their skill in possession resulted in the first goal of the evening in the 16th minute. The Flamingos moved the ball out wide to stretch out NCFC’s defense in their end. Stephen Payne collected a pass at the right edge of the box and hit a bounce pass across the box to Derek Gebhard. Left unmarked, Gebhard had a relatively easy tap-in to put Madison on top.
The Flock doubled their advantage in the 37th minute on a play that started with a turnover near midfield. Madison worked the ball forward, with Gebhard getting the ball on the edge of the six-yard box. He pushed the ball across into space, and Nazeem Bartman had all the space he needed to finish the chance and make it 2-0.
THE OALEX ADVANTAGE
As the saying goes, North Carolina had wood to chop if they were going to get any points out of the game.
Unsurprisingly, it was Oalex Anderson who stepped up to give his team the opportunity to get a result.
The forward is putting together a career season for North Carolina FC. His partnership with Garrett McLaughlin continues to produce, and his focus, creativity, and drive have him in the hunt for the Golden Boot.
North Carolina got a break early in the second half when former NCFC defender Sam Brotherton was under pressure from Anderson, who nearly stripped him of the ball. But on the play, Brotherton curled up around the ball, committing a handball and getting a straight red card from the referee. After coming on as a substitute at halftime, Brotherton’s night was done after eight minutes, and North Carolina played the final 36 minutes with a man advantage.
Anderson had eyes on the goal all night and, just minutes after gaining the man advantage, thought he had the equalizer when he got the ball from Christian Lue Young with acres of space between him and Madison goalkeeper Bernd Shipmann. But Shipmann came out with the big challenge and deflected Anderson’s attempt out for a corner kick.
He would get another chance in the 67th minute. McLaughlin got the ball off the top of the penalty arc and knew immediately he would find Anderson making the run into the box. Anderson took a touch before squeezing the shot past Shipmann.
Five minutes later, it looked like the Dynamic Duo would have the equalizer as McLaughlin had the ball out on the flank and crossed it in for Anderson, who made a sliding redirect attempt that came off of Shipmann and bounced straight up into the crossbar. Somehow the ball bounced outside the goal, and Anderson couldn’t quite get the angle on the rebound header.
Shipmann would deny them again in the 75th minute when he got just enough of McLaughlin’s attempt to deflect it out for a corner kick.
When you give a player of Anderson’s quality chance after chance, he will make you pay the price. In stoppage time, Louis Pérez sent a lovely corner kick into the box that Raheem Somersall tried to redirect the ball into the net, but his header attempt tracked wide. Anderson was at the far post, ready to feast on that free ball. In the 93rd minute, Anderson finally got his equalizer and gave North Carolina FC a hard-won point in the standings.
NEXT MAN UP MENTALITY
Head coach John Bradford has had to keep his pencil sharpened lately. Between injuries, international duty, and suspensions, the lineup has been shifting a bit.
Mulqueen got his first start in goal with Nicholas Holliday and Tor Saunders out with injuries and again gave a strong performance backing up the defense. He credits the growth and preparation under Mike McGinty and his teammates’ confidence in him and each other.
“Yeah, I mean [being a third goalkeeper] is hard, but it’s not hard,” Mulqueen explained after the game. “Because, you know, Mike McGinty is a great goalkeeper coach and I’m developing so much under him that it almost was like, well, if I’m not playing, I’m gonna get so much better under him.”
Bradford had praise for Mulqueen’s performance as well. “For him to come in and get his first start tonight, I’m really proud of him and pleased for his performance. I think he showed a lot of character tonight.”
NEXT UP FOR NORTH CAROLINA FC
NCFC is set to take on Sunderland in an exhibition match on Friday, July 21. They return to league play on Wednesday, July 26, against the red-hot Northern Colorado Hailstorm. You can get tickets at northcarolinafc.com/tickets.
North Carolina FC (4-4-2): T. Mulqueen; C. Lue Young (M. Flick 71’), G. Fernandes (D. Garcia 45’), D. Navarro© (P. Popp 88’), D.J. Benton (N. Flores Blanco 61’); L. Arriaga, J. Servania, L. Perez, S. Adams (R. Somersall 45’); G. McLaughlin, O. Anderson
Forward Madison FC (4-4-2): B. Schipmann; J. Crull, M. Osmond©, T. Mehl (S. Brotherton 45’), D. Gebhard (E. Conerty 73’); S. Payne, A. Wheeler-Omiunu, I. Martinez, N. Bartman (M. Chichero 73’); J. Onen (R. Screen 90+6’), C. Chaney
North Carolina FC: 2
Forward Madison FC: 2
North Carolina FC: O. Anderson (G. McLaughlin) 67’; O. Anderson (unassisted) 90+3’
Forward Madison FC: D. Gebhard (S. Payne) 16’; N. Bartman (D. Gebhard) 37’
North Carolina FC: M. Flick (YC) 81’; J. Servania (YC) 90+10’
Forward Madison FC: D. Gebhard (YC) 11’; C. Chaney (YC) 27’; E. Conerty (YC) 85’; S. Brotherton (RC) 54’