Penn FC had plenty of pressure to deal with as they headed into their home opener Saturday night. The newly rebranded team was winless to start the season, and they boys in blue were desperate to perform well for the first time on City Island under the Penn FC name. It certainly looked like the Charleston Battery were going to head back to South Carolina with all three points, but some late game heroics courtesy of Penn FC captain Ken Tribbett helped save a point for Penn FC and send the fans home smiling.
The starting XI for Penn FC had a few changes, but it was ultimately similar to what they used the first time these two teams met. Pedro Galvao was back in the starting lineup but he was playing on the right where he had previously started on the left. Saaliah Muhammad was one of the starting forwards after having made several appearances as a sub this season.
The entire first half felt like a continuation of the last match between these two teams back in March. Penn FC held a lot of possession, but they couldn’t find any quality finishes. Meanwhile, Charleston held their men back and waited to seize any goal scoring opportunities as they presented themselves. This nearly paid off in the 22nd minute as Ataulla Guerra had Penn FC keeper Romu Peiser off his line but his chip shot went too high.
Guerra had another opportunity in the 26th minute when Jay Bolt slipped him a pass right in front of the net. Guerra went near post to try and fool Peiser, but Peiser made a reflex save by clamping down on the ball with his legs. It looked more like something a hockey goalie might attempt than a soccer goalie, but a save’s a save.
Penn FC made one change at the half, bringing on Ghanian Freddie Opoku for the first time this season to replace Sal Barone. Freddie made an impact in the second half as his speed and passing helped spread out the Battery a bit more than the first half. But the 0-0 scoreline held until late in the half as neither side could get a good look on goal.
That all changed in an instant as Charleston’s Tah Anunga laid off a perfect through ball for Guerra in the 77th minute. Guerra was one on one with Peiser as Penn FC’s center backs tried to race back to make a play. Peiser came forward to try and collect the ball as he had done successfully several times this season, but Guerra was able to shake the keeper and put the ball in the back of the night from a tight angle. Penn FC was down a goal with only about 15 minutes left to work with.
Down a goal and struggling to produce offensively, Head Coach Raoul Voss decided to bring on an offensive punch and subbed in midfielder Jerry Ortiz (making his Penn FC debut) for defender Tiago Calvano. This switched up the formation and it appeared that Penn FC was playing a two man back line at times during the rest of the match. But the equalizer was slow in coming as many of the Penn FC crosses into the box were easily turned away by the Battery defense.
Penn FC was able to win a few corners in the waning minutes, and that’s what ultimately paid off for them in the 89th. A Jerry Ortiz corner was turned away by the Battery but collected by Freddie. He was able to slip it over to Mauro Estaquio who crossed it for three unmarked Penn FC players at the far post. Ken Tribbett, it what is certain to be a goal-of-the week nominee, laid out for a bicycle kick that bounced past Odisnel Cooper for the equalizer.
Here it is from the field level:
It took a minute for the teams to regain their composure and four minutes of stoppage time were announced. But neither side was able to mount a serious goal scoring threat and the 1-1 scoreline held as the final whistle blew.
- After starting the last two matches for Penn FC, Tommy Heinemann didn’t appear in the 18 for the team on Saturday night. He was missed out on the field as his presence as a big target striker tends to pull defenders away from other players who then get a little more room to work in.
- Penn FC was at the top of the league in fouls last season, but they’ve been doing well so far in 2018 with keeping them under control. But Saturday was a step backward in that regard as they picked up 5 yellow cards during the evening.
- The draw means that Penn FC is unbeaten in three matches, but they team won’t be satisfied until they get their first win. They won’t have to wait long to try again as they play Nashville on Tuesday followed by a trip to NCFC on Saturday.