CINCINNATI, OH – FC Cincinnati forward Djiby returned to the turf after a three-game absence and pushed the Orange and Blue to a 1-0 victory over National Premier Soccer League member AFC Cleveland in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night at Nippert Stadium. It is FCC’s first win at home since a 4-0 shutout over Saint Louis FC on April 15 and the first time FCC has played beyond 90 minutes.
“That was cup soccer tonight,” FCC head coach Alan Koch said post game. “It’s a game of margins and we should have finished the game earlier than we did. However, I give the guys credit to get the result after a hard-fought 120 minutes. I saw a lot of character on this team. These guys embraced the opportunities we were able to give them tonight. It was great to see fans there right until the end.”
Djiby, in the midst of a six-game suspension, showed off his energy. He led FCC with six shots in the first half – 16 on the night – and none closer than a clear look with his right foot from inside the box in the 37th minute that was blocked.
Djiby and the Orange and Blue finally broke through in the 117th minute as the striker sent in a header from the left side of the box past the reach of goalie Alex Ivanov and into the back right corner of the net for the lone goal of the match in the second period of extra time. Wiedeman assisted on the play, helping Djiby to his seventh goal of the season.
“Any time I get the chance to play in front of our fans is great,” Djiby stated in his post-game press conference. “It was nice to get back to the pitch. It was a good victory and I feel great.”
The Orange and Blue attacked deep into Cleveland territory early and often in the first 45 minutes, but couldn’t splash the ball through the net and entered halftime in a 0-0 deadlock. FCC dominated in shot attempts with 15 in the first half – six of those on target – compared to just three for Cleveland.
Cleveland goalkeeper Alex Ivanov saved all six FCC shots on target to keep the match scoreless at intermission.
FCC entered the second half looking to capitalize on a scoring opportunity with a free kick in the 54th minute by forward Andrew Wiedeman. However, Wiedeman’s shot sailed wide left.
Moments later, Cleveland earned a corner kick with midfielder Skye Harter crossing one into the box in the 58th minute. Cleveland defender Declan McGivern headed the ball toward the net and it appeared to cross the goal line, but FCC goalkeeper Dallas Jaye was credited the save.
Despite both teams’ efforts, FCC and AFC Cleveland headed into extra time, consisting of two 15-minute periods. Midway through the first period, FCC midfielder Corben Bone launched a straightaway, right-footed line drive shot at the goal from just outside the box, but Ivanov was in the right place at the right time for the save.
The Orange and Blue out shot AFC Cleveland 44-6 in the match.
FC Cincinnati will host Louisville City FC in the third round of the Open Cup on May 31 at Nippert Stadium and also returns to action this Sat. as they play host to Bethlehem Steel FC at 7:00 p.m.
FCC: 120th – Djiby (Andrew Wiedeman)
FCC: Dallas Jaye, Victor Mansaray, Djiby Fall, Andrew Wiedeman, Marco Dominguez, Eric Stevenson, Paul Nicholson, Derek Luke, Harrison Delbridge, Garrett Halfhill, Pat McMahon
CLE: Thomas Beck, Boban Cancar, Chris Cvecko, Mike Derezic, Skye Harter, Alex Ivanov, Coletun Long, Declan McGivern, Admir Suljevic, Benjamin Truax, Ryan Ware