Heartbreak in Ocean City: Nor'easters' playoff hopes ended on late equalizer

Reading United scores in second half stoppage time to cancel out John Fletcher's record-tying goal

The Ocean City Nor’easters’ playoff hopes were dashed in the final seconds of their 1-1 draw with Reading United. "It’s tough to accept, when you played well enough to win," said head coach Neil Holloway.

Reading United 
 Ocean City FC
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Ocean City FC Lineup School / Hometown
GK - Tunde Ogunbiyi Boston College / Gwynedd, PA
DEF - Kevin Strunk Lehigh / Downingtown, PA
DEF - Kevin Curran Loyola / Ocean View, NJ
DEF - John Fletcher Eckerd College (’08) / Uxbridge, ENG
DEF - Matt Griffin Robert Morris / Bethel Park, PA
MID - Ryan Richter LaSalle / Southampton, PA
MID - Max Hamilton Monmouth / Medford, NJ
MID - Dan Braun Robert Morris / Pittsburgh, PA
MID - Neal Melchionni Lehigh / Marmora, NJ
FWD - Terry Gibbs Bloomfield College / London, England
FWD - Kyle Miller Holy Cross / Woodbury, NJ
Junior Chapman LaSalle / Ocean City, NJ
Alex Weidman Monmouth / Linwood, NJ
William Swetra James Madison (’10) / Egg Harbor, NJ
Byron Carmichael Marshall (’03) / Lumberton, NJ
Giancarlo Granese Hofstra / Ocean City, NJ
Scoring Summary
64th (OCEAN CITY) John Fletcher (Unassisted)
90th+ (READING) Andrew Wenger



















The Ocean City Nor’easters’ playoff hopes were dashed in the final seconds of their 1-1 draw with Reading United.

In a wet and sloppy night at Carey Stadium in Ocean City, the Nor’easters were in a must-win situation against their long-time rivals from Pennsylvania. Anything less than a win would eliminate them from playoff contention and after John Fletcher’s 64th minute goal, they appeared on their way to keeping hope alive.

However, it was an equalizing goal by Reading in second half stoppage time that ended Ocean City’s chances of making the post-season for the second year in a row.

"It’s tough to accept, when you played well enough to win," said head coach Neil Holloway. "Part of the game is concentration and being able to see a game out when you’re in a winning position. Our young players will learn from that."

After heavy rain fell before the match, it managed to stop before kickoff and stay away throughout. The first half was tightly played, with each team creating a few chances. The game would open up in the second half with a brilliant goal from Ocean City defender John Fletcher in the 64th minute. The captain took the game into his own hands (or feet, in this case), collecting the ball at the center circle and taking off toward the Reading goal. He eluded a couple of defenders along the way, and found enough space to shoot just outside the penalty area. He fired a shot into the lower corner to beat United’s goalkeeper.

Fletcher’s goal was his fourth of the season, tying him for the team lead with Byron Carmichael. The goal adds to his single-season club record for defenders, and ties him with Joe Banks for the most goals and points scored by a defender in a career. Banks and Fletcher have the same career stats, both with six goals and one assist, although Fletcher accomplished his numbers in 22 games, while Banks played in 71 career games.

The home team played comfortably, despite Reading’s heavy offensive pressure, outshooting Ocean City 11-3 in the second half. Tunde Ogunbiyi managed to keep a clean sheet up until second half stoppage time, making four saves.

With the Nor’easters just seconds away from victory, Reading was awarded a free kick about 30 yards away in the center of the field. The free kick was sent into the box and Andrew Wenger got a head on it and beat Ogunbiyi to tie the game at 1-1.

"All the players were confused where all the extra time came in stoppage time, but all credit goes to Reading, they are a good team who battled all the way to the end," said Holloway.

This was the fifth game this year where the club either gave up a lead, or gave up a late goal that stole points away.

The Nor’easters record is 4-4-5 after Saturday’s draw, and they are in fifth place in the Mid-Atlantic Division. Ocean City has never finished outside the top four in the division in club history, and with three home games remaining, their goal is to keep that streak alive.
Despite the disappointment of the draw, Ocean City does keep a streak alive, as they extend their home unbeaten streak against Reading to seven (5-0-2), outscoring them in those seven games 16-4. Their all-time record against United improves to 6-1-5, with the only loss coming back in 2007.

Ocean City will take their three-game unbeaten streak into their next home game, when they host the first place Ironbound Express on Wednesday, July 14 at the Beach House. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for kids. Their next three games are all played in Ocean City, with the Carolina Dynamo coming to town on Saturday, July 17 (8 p.m. kickoff) and the Nor’easters closing out the 2010 season on Saturday, July 24 against the West Virginia Chaos (7 p.m. kickoff).