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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Silverbacks Take New Names, Conquer New Places - By Taylor Peyton

The Silverbacks continue to build momentum after wins on back to back nights against Carolina Discoveries United, and Georgia Revolution. Goals from Ebrima Njie, Mohammed Issahaku, and Alex Harlley guided the Silverbacks to a 3-0 win over Carolina United at Silverbacks Park on Friday. The very next day, Avery Shephard scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Georgia Revolution in Hampton.

With threatening weather in the area, Friday’s kickoff was delayed until 8 pm, but the worst of it managed to miss Silverbacks Park. The Silverbacks rained on Carolina United’s parade by beating them 3-0, but apart from a few showers before kickoff, the weather was fine.

Dark skies and a bit of rain over Silverbacks Park before kickoff. Image OF Dave Williamson

The game was scoreless in the first 24 minutes, but that changed when Ebrima Njie made it 1-0. Not only did Njie score the goal but he started the build up when dispossessed a Carolina player right after a throw in and passed the ball to Ferrety Sousa. Sousa then switched the play after noticing Mitch Garcia was wide open. Garcia hit the ball very powerfully into the goalkeeper’s hands. He wasn’t able to hold onto the ball, and Njie was in the right place at the right time to put it away.

Njie celebrates his goal against Carolina United. Image by Dave Williamson

The Next Silverbacks goal came in the 70th minute when a Mitch Garcia free kick from 32 yards hit the post and was then tapped in seconds after. DZ Harmon attempted to put it in initially, but intervention from a defender and a quick recovery by the goalkeeper was enough to thwart him, but there was no one to stop Mo Issahaku as he tapped in the still bouncing ball

The third and final goal came in the 90th minute when Alex Harlley buried it into the top left corner of the net from just outside the 18-yard box. The goal was assisted by Taka who noticed Harlley had created some space by using his pace, so he passed the ball to Harlley who finished the chance emphatically.
At the other end of the pitch, the Silverbacks defenders, as well as Thomas Hunter were absolutely stellar as they earned themselves a clean sheet. Thomas Hunter said afterward that the defense made him look good and he didn’t really have to make any big saves. Thomas Hunter, a fantastic keeper in his own right, had a point about the defense that night. The back three of Njie, Abdul Bangura, and Adnan Bangura were all impenetrable, and the midfield pairing of Lansana and Sousa did a great job of getting back on defense and preventing counter attacking opportunities for the visitors.

The Silverbacks were right back at it the next day, taking on the Georgia Revolution for the first time at North Mt Carmel Park in Hampton. The Starting XI that hit the pitch looked very similar to the one that had just played 90 minutes the night before, but the supposedly “tired” Silverbacks managed to strike first in the 7th minute when Avery Shephard scored his first goal of the season.

Avery Shephard scored the lone goal against Georgia Revolution. Image by Dave Williamson

The Silverbacks went into halftime with the lead, but unfortunately, it hadn't been all smooth sailing because Abdul Bangura was sent off in the 41st minute for a high challenge on a Revs player. He will be suspended for next Saturday’s game against New Orleans, but he will be able to play against Charleston on Wednesday.

With a key defender sent off, Head Coach Phoday Dolleh had no choice but to bring another one onto the field for the second half. That defender was Kemar Brown, who he entered the game along with DZ Harmon. They replaced Taka and Ferrety Sousa, respectively.

Following the red card towards the end of the first half, the match started to get chippy. There were a large number of hard challenges that led to a variety of things including a Revs player being down for an extended period of time, a red card for the Revs’ Adam McCabe, yellow cards for Alex Harlley and Rene Enang of the Silverbacks, and Kemar Brown having to be helped off the field before a set piece.

It wasn’t pretty in the end, but the Silverbacks managed to hold on to their narrow lead to pick up their third consecutive win in all competitions. It was a great accomplishment considering they had already played the night before and then had to play in a very chippy game with 10 men for the majority of it.

After the conclusion of the game, the Silverbacks Twitter account tweeted that Thomas Hunter was a “literal wall of red bricks,” and in all honesty that was a pretty fair description. Thomas Hunter made a lot of the saves that he supposedly didn’t have to make on Friday because “the defense made him look good.” Not saying that the defense did a bad job by any means, but considering how many saves he made, I think he earned his fair share of the credit on Saturday night. After having his clean sheet ruined on Wednesday by an unfair penalty decision, Hunter managed to grab two of them in as many days. Let that be a lesson to you kids out there, good things DO happen to good people.

It was a big weekend for Thomas Hunter. Image by Dave Williamson

The Silverbacks next game is against Charleston Battery at Silverbacks Park in the second round of the US Open Cup. Unfortunately, the game is scheduled to kick off at 3:30, but I’m already over 850 words, so I’ll wait until the preview for that game before I delve deeper into that controversial topic, as well as other topics about Wednesday’s clash against the hated Charleston Battery.

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