The Rhinos went with a really young lineup last night against the Atlanta Silverbacks due to some starters nursing injuries that made them unavailable for the game (Frankie Sanfilippo and Johnny Menyongar) and only available in the case of emergency (Greg Howes). The fact that Atlanta had played the night before in Atlanta and had traveled the day of the game made the lineup change a little easier to handle.
Coach Calloway again went with a 3-5-2. Matthew Delicate and Connally Edozien again started up top. The midfield consisted of rookies Mike Ambersley wide left and Penfield native Josh Bolton and Neil Dombrowski in the central part of midfield. John Ball was out right and Aaran Lines was again running things in the central attacking midfield role. In back it was Scott Palguta at left back, Kenney Bertz in central defense, and Tenywa Bonseu at right back with captain Scott Vallow in goal.
Early on, the young Rhinos lineup looked OK, but not great versus the Silverbacks. The Rhinos were able to maintain possession, but couldn't get anything happening in the final third. Josh Bolton looked pretty good in the defensive midfield role. Although there were a few 50-50 balls that would have liked to have seen him go after with a little more reckless abandon.
One thing that was noticable throughout the first half was the lack of chemistry up top between Matthew Delicate and Connally Edozien. Neither player was looking good early on.
Late in the first half Atlanta got a few good chances against Scott Vallow. The best being a shot that hit the right post as it got past a diving Vallow.
In the first half, Atlanta outshot the Rhinos six to three. The Silverbacks also led on shots on frame by a three to one margin.
Coming out of halftime, Coach Calloway pressed Greg Howes into emergency duty. But, unlike for most of the season, Howes didn't come into the midfield, but instead replaced Edozien up top. The change made immediate dividends as the Rhinos started peppering the Atlanta goal early in the first half. But, as has been the case for a large part of the season, the Rhinos were unable to finish.
In the 55th minute, right back T-Bone Bonseu went down with a knock tothe head and was replaced by Jason Perry who hasn't seen any game time in quite a while. But, I thought Jason Perry looked pretty good for a guy that had been out of action for so long.
In the 67th minute, Neil
Dombrowski gave way to Rey Martinez. Mike Ambersley moved to
Dombrowski's spot in the central part of midfield and John Ball moved
to the left side and Martinez played wide right.
Machel Millwood came in for Atlanta in the 68th minute and started causing the Rhinos backline fits.
While the Rhinos had the better of the play early in the second half, the Silverbacks came on strong later in the half. The pressure that Silverbacks created caused Scott Vallow to come up with 3 or 4 amazing saves to keep the Rhinos in the game.
In the 80th minute, Charles Gbeke came on for Matthew Delicate.
Then near the start of stoppage time, Mike Ambersley was taken down near the top of the Atlanta box. Line and Ball were huddled near the ball and as they were readying to take the free kick, the referee allowed Atlanta to make substitution. Greg Howes wasn't happy with that time stalling tactic and let the referee know. The referee didn't appreciate Howes' venting and showed him a yellow card for dissent.
Then, John Ball took a short free kick to Howes and Greg ripped a shot from about 20 yards out into the lower right corner of the net.
The crowd wnet wild and then counted down the last four minutes of stoppage time. While it wasn't the prettiest game of the year, it was a huge three points.
Next up, a home and home with Montreal on Wednesday in Canada and Friday night at PAETEC Park.
Doug Miller Night, Bill Sedgewick coming back, and Montreal comes to town. I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Scott Vallow was huge yet again. It's almost to the point that if he doesn't make 2 or 3 amazing saves, it's too easy of a night for Scott.
- Josh Bolton got a chance to start and he looked pretty darn good. Hopefully he'll get a little more playing time down the stretch.
- I really liked the yellow jerseys that the team was sporting last night. The best part was that I was able to read the numbers on the back!
- Big props for the team's Town Hall meeting before the game where the club gave fans not only a forum to vent some concerns and complaints, but also gave a lot of good feedback on things that they have been working on to improve the gameday experience for fans.
- I know this team is statistically the best offensive team in the USL 1st Division this season, but they need to get better in the final third. Who knows if they will be able to find a solution given the players that they have this season, but I'm going to have concerns come playoff time if they don't get things clicking down the stretch.
- I didn't like the 8 o'clock start time due to the Rattlers game at 2pm. Hopefully that is something that they can avoid in the future.
- Some of the fans' takes at the Town Hall meeting were tough for me to hear. I could relate to one guy's struggles to make ends meet, but his request to be able to bring in drinks and snacks from home was rediculous. No stadium that I know of would allow fans to bring in their own food and beverages. So, I don't see why he would expect the Rhinos to allow it at PAETEC Park. I also had a hard time with the people complaining about the fans at the top of Section 125 that actually want to cheer their team on throughout the game. But, what are you going to do.............
- I can't make the trip to Montreal on Wednesday and Friday can't get here fast enough!
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