With the game still scoreless, Alun Webb chased after a pass with nothing but open space in front of the Chattanooga FC forward. He quickly caught up with the ball, and the closest Asheville defender was merely a slight bother to Webb as he curved the ball into the box for a shot that held up in a 2-0 CFC victory in the North Carolina mountains.
The ball found the opportunistic head of one Markus Smarzoch, who belted it past the keeper and into the net. The connection between the two players was so well-executed, even the normally snarky Asheville announcing crew complimented CFC’s goal when they called the play.
Thanks to strong play by Chattanooga’s defense, CFC gained the victory and also surpassed them in the standings. CFC now leads the Southeastern Conference with a 4-1-1 record, and Asheville dropped to a 3-2-1 record.
Playing their third match in seven days, Chattanooga players had every right to be fatigued. Energy levels did not seem to be an issue in the second half though, as Chattanooga appeared to be a step faster than their Carolinian counterparts.
The score came after a scoreless first half, something of a rarity for Chattanooga this season. CFC was able to keep the explosive Frank Rosenthal under control, although he did get a few good shots on goal throughout the game.
However, CFC may have been bailed out by a silent whistle in the 72nd minute. An Asheville forward appeared to be struck in the back by a Chattanooga defender while in the box, and many seemed to expect a penalty kick to ensue. But the whistle remained quiet and a threatening Asheville attack fizzled out shortly thereafter.
The home team came back with a purpose in the ensuing few minutes though, as the stout Phil D’Amico had to ward away a string of shots by the attacking team.
The CFC defense prevailed though, and they completed the shutout by suffocating the life out of Asheville’s offense. With the Chattahooligan’s drums pounding away in the background, the game almost seemed to take place in the friendly confines of Finley Stadium.
The Chattahooligans had even more to celebrate when Caleb Cole bolted through a mass of Asheville defenders, and decided to ice the game with only a few minutes left. He stopped just outside the box and torched a low ball past the keeper for Chattanooga’s second goal.
Asheville never seriously threatened Chattanooga after this point, and CFC came away with their fourth win in a row. CFC will conclude their grueling four-game-in-10-days stretch against Atlanta SC in the capitol of the Peach State.