Victory on the road moves the team to the top of the league
Wednesday’s game at the Cy Donnelly stadium saw extend their unbeaten record on the road this season against the Long Island Rough Riders in an archetypal ‘game of two halves’. After a six hour drive in heavy traffic to Long Island, which saw the kick off delayed by 45 minutes, the boys from Ocean City spent the first half of the game with their minds still on the team bus as a sloppy performance allowed the Rough Riders to go into half time 1-0 up. What followed, however, was a clear display of the mental strength and attacking talent which has seen the team move to the top of the mid-Atlantic division of the PDL as they roared out of the dressing room to score three unanswered goals and secure an all-important win.
Despite having to wait for the game to kick off the Rough Riders came flying out of the blocks in the early period of the game, with the Nor’easters defense having to weather the kind of storm that they have so often been on the opposite side of this season as Long Island attacked in waves on Brian Billings’ goal. Despite some heroic last-ditch defending from the Ocean City back four, with Tapiwa Machingauta particularly impressing, the pressure eventually told as, just after the half-hour Long Island’s Danny Kramer found some space on the right flank and saw his wicked low cross cruelly deflected in off Nor’easters left back Jordan Murrell to move the Rough Riders into a lead they maintained at half time.
After a half-time reshuffle from coach Oswald which saw Dwayne Reid introduced into the front line the Nor’easters came out looking a completely different team from the one that struggled in the first half. With full backs McLaws and Murrell pushing forward at every opportunity Ocean City took the game by the scruff of the neck and began to create chances, Nick Perea seeing a sweet volley fly inches past the post just minutes after the restart. As the game wore on the Rough Riders gradually were pushed deeper and deeper into their own half and shots began to rain in on their goal, the Nor’easters eventually made this pressure tell in the 72nd minute as a Long Island defensive mix-up presented marauding fullback Shawn McLaws the opportunity to head the ball into an empty net.
Buoyed by the equalizer the Nor’easters poured forward in search of the winning goal that would move them above Reading at the top of the table. This goal soon arrived from the impressive Reid, who latched onto a long ball behind the Rough Riders defense and finished clinically when one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Reid was soon involved again as the Nor’easters took advantage of the gaps appearing as the Rough Riders searched for an equalizer, beating two Long Island defenders on the right flank before playing a perfectly measured through ball to Frank Tweneboa, whose cool finish put the game beyond doubt.
Coach Oswald reflected on the performance by saying "Its never easy to get off a bus, arrive at a game, warm up for 12 minutes and start a match against a quality team and look engaged and seem prepared. The 1st half seem to show just that, legs heavy, lethargic play, disengaged, which to a degree could be expected with the travel involved"
However, as the boys celebrated their victory the management were able to reflect on a hard fought win which illustrated that as well as flair and pace going forwards the Nor’easters also have the resilience and never say die attitude to compete at the very top of this league.