Barons tie it in the final minutes to extend unbeaten streak to five
Trailing 2-0 late in the game on Saturday night, it looked as if the Barons' unbeaten streak was going to come to an end until Rich Baker came to the rescue. In a frantic final ten minutes, Baker scored two goals to earn a 2-2 draw against the Delaware Dynasty on the road. The Ocean City native has been on fire in the last week with three goals in his last two games, in addition to a late equalizer against the Reading Rage in a PDL Reserves match a few days prior.
The Barons (3-1-4, 13 points) extend their unbeaten streak to five matches and finish their run of four straight road games with a 2-0-2 record. Combined with a 2-0 win by the Westchester Flames over Reading tonight, the Barons lose ground, falling three points behind the first-place Flames.
The game got off to a poor start for the visitors as they found themselves down a goal after Joe Banks knocked the ball into his own net in the 8th minute. The Dynasty took a free kick near the corner flag and played the ball short. It was crossed in across the mouth of goal and Banks was at the wrong place at the wrong time and deflected the ball off his knee and past Ocean City goalkeeper Adam Edwards.
"The first goal shocked us a bit," said head coach Neil Holloway. "We played well in the first 30 minutes and created several chances, we just couldn't finish. We could have had three or four goals."
Ocean City recovered from the unlucky start, controlling the majority of play in the first 30 minutes. They created several offensive chances, but like many games this year, they weren't able to finish. The best chance of the half came when Byron Carmichael was sent through on the left side where he cut it back and played a ball into Ruben Mingo. Mingo and his defender collided and the ball popped up and found itself spinning on the goal line where it was finally cleared off the line by the Dynasty defense.
Any hope of recovering in the second half was thwarted by a strike in the 46th minute by Keli Dube of the Dynasty. Ocean City captain Tommy Greenawalt made a nice slide tackle on the left side of the box, but the ball still found it's way to a Dynasty player who crossed it in, and after a couple of failed clearances, Dube was there to blast the ball through three defenders and past a diving Edwards in goal to make it 2-0.
With nearly 30 minutes left in the match, the Barons made a change in formation. They brought on Chris Williams for Banks and then a few minutes later, changed to a three-man backline by taking Greenawalt out and adding young forward Scott Hawkins.
"We were still dangerous the way we were, but I thought we had to just go for it," said Holloway about his change in strategy.
Ocean City nearly pulled one back off a corner kick when Thompson hit the crossbar with a header in the box and the rebound was nearly headed in by Jeremy Ortiz but Dynasty goalkeeper Colin Burns came all the way across his line to make the diving save.
The theme of the final ten minutes was keeping the play alive. In the 83rd minute, Ryan Heins played a cross into the box and the ball pinballed around the box and when it was nearly cleared, Hawkins did a half bicycle kick to chip the ball in the air to keep it alive, and Baker stepped up and volleyed in the first goal of the game.
The momentum had shifted to the visitors and the Dynasty seemed to be out of gas in the final minutes when Baker struck again. This time, the ball bounced around the box following a corner kick and fell to Thompson who crossed the ball across the goalmouth and Baker put the ball in the back of the net for the equalizer.
This Friday, the Barons will return home to Carey Stadium to take on the Albany Admirals for the second time this year. It will be the first game played at the Beachhouse since a 2-0 win against Albany on May 26. Ocean City will look to add to their 25-game home unbeaten streak with the kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
DELAWARE: Own goal - 8th
DELAWARE: Keli Dube (unassisted) - 46th
OCEAN CITY: Rich Baker (Scott Hawkins) - 83rd
OCEAN CITY: Rich Baker (John Thompson) - 89th