Roland Lamah‘s goal in the 85th minute was enough to earn FC Cincinnati a point against the Chicago Fire in Wednesday’s second game of the Carolina Challenge Cup.
It was a game of few chances, but Nemanja Nikolic was able to combine with Aleksandar Katai for a lovely chipped finish in the 53rd, before Lamah’s excellent finish from nearly 25 yards out with five minutes to go would give Cincy a share of the spoils.
The Fire had much in the way of attacking intent in the first 45, starting in the 12th minute, when Nick Hasler‘s cross found full back Brandt Bronico, who had his diving header saved by goalkeeper Spencer Richey.
And then, on the half hour mark, it looked like Armando Moreno would be clean through for a shot on goal, but the offside flag would go up, and a free kick was given.
Eight minutes later, midfielder Christian Martinez would force a save from Richey when he cut in and took a shot from the left. Richey would scramble to his right to palm the ball down, and be aware enough to gobble up the rebound as well.
On the stroke of half time, Fabian Herbers would miss a chance as he laid out in front of goal, but an attempted clearance would go awry as the defender slipped, but the ensuing cross would go behind for a corner which was eventually cleared.
And so the half ended with both sides at 0-0. The Fire were the team on the front foot, but FC Cincinnati’s defense was doing well to keep it all square.
But two minutes into the second half, the Fire would win the ball back high up the pitch, and eventually force a save from the edge of the box as the scores remained level.
Then, on 53′, finally came the breakthrough. This time it would be Nemaja Nikolic winning the ball back in midfield, remaining calm and playing in Aleksandar Katai, who produced a cool, chipped finish to open the scoring.
To that point, the opener was deserved for the Fire, the better team going forward, but lacking the final ball to produce anything to separate them and their opponents.
Seven minutes later and the Fire could’ve had a second. Substitutes Przemyslaw Frankowski and Djordje Mihailovic would combine to create a chance that was blocked, before the goalscorer Katai would try an audacious flick over the ‘keeper that would go wide from the rebound.
There were many subs that would slow the game down, but as the changes came, FC Cincy would find their way back into the game a bit, but it would take an impressive strike from Roland Lamah to equalize.
Lamah would receive the ball in midfield about thirty yards from goal before making room for himself in front of a defender with a bit of trickery and firing a shot across goal from all of 25 yards into the bottom corner.
The goal was probably the best seen at the tournament so far, although perhaps against the run of play, though the Fire could be guilty of not taking their chances.
And that’s how the game finished. The result meant that there was all to play for on Matchday three, with no one eliminated from contention and everyone with at least a point to their name. The final matchday is Saturday, February 23rd, as the Battery play the Chicago Fire and FC Cincinnati closes the tournament against the Columbus Crew.
TOP IMAGE COURTESY ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY