Chattanooga FC continued an impressive start to the season with a comeback 2-1 victory in Maryland on Saturday night.
Quickfire goals from Markus Naglestad and Mutaya Mwape earned all three points and a seventh league win for the boys in blue.
The visiting boys in blue had defeated Maryland just seven days prior at home courtesy of a Markus Naglestad free kick. Getting consecutive wins against the Bobcats would be a statement of intent as Chattanooga had another chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.
Head coach Rod Underwood unveiled a largely unchanged eleven, only replacing a suspended Alex McGrath with Luis Garcia Sosa in the midfield.
There was clear tension between the two sides with the hosts wanting to overturn their defeat the previous weekend.
The two sets of players worked hard to win the battle.
Jean Antoine made an impressive point-blank save in the 18th minute, making himself big to deny an early opener.
Naglestad came close to scoring in the 25th minute as his free kick was parried wide in the bottom left corner of the goal.
The first half ended goalless, and the two teams regrouped to fight for another 45 minutes.
The battle continued in the second half, and it was ultimately Maryland who drew first blood. On a quick short corner routine, a Darwin Espinal cross-turned-shot snuck over everyone and into the back of the net. Maryland had a 1-0 lead on 60 minutes.
Chattanooga responded swiftly and in style. Mutaya Mwape played a 1-2 with Beto Alvarenga to get into the box before playing a nutmeg pass to Markus Naglestad. The Norwegian hit the ball first time, sneaking it past the keeper from close range to score. Chattanooga was level after 66 minutes.
Mwape went from assister to scorer just three minutes later. Mwape floated out to the right away from his marker, and a pass from Garcia Sosa was hit first time by Mwape to bend past the keeper into the far side of the net. Just twelve minutes after Maryland scored the opener, Chattanooga stole the lead.
The match played out in a tense but assured fashion as the boys in blue took care of business. Several players subbed in for the final minutes, including the return of Damian Rodriguez. All players did their part, and after ten minutes of stoppage time the final whistle confirmed that all three points belonged to Chattanooga FC.
With 24 of a possible 27 points on the board from NISA play, the boys in blue now take a break from league action.
On Saturday, June 10th, the club will celebrate CFC legend Juan Hernandez with a testimonial match against Pumas FC. Tickets are available now at ChattanoogaFC.com/tickets.