Forward Madison FC had their share of opportunities, but in the end, they fell just short in a 1-0 loss to a very scrappy, defensive-minded Greenville Triumph SC on Wednesday night at Breese Stevens Field in Madison.
On the bright side, the Flamingos set a new USL League One record for the club with 4,663 people in attendance. The home crowd was very energetic for a Wednesday night, perhaps boosted by the presence of Leslie David Baker, better know as Stanley Hudson from the popular television series “The Office.” Baker was a special guest of the Flamingos and met with fans before the game.
At 21 minutes, the Flamingos survived a scary shot off the crossbar from Greenville. At 38 minutes, Flamingos star Don Smart nearly punched home a goal after teammate Josiel Núñez sent a ball to him over the top of the defense.
Triumph’s Christopher Bermudez finally broke the scoreless tie at the 42-minute mark with an immaculately placed shot to the upper left corner of the goal. The assist came from Aaron Walker.
There would be no scoring the rest of the way as Greenville, who has given up fewer goals than any other team in USL League One this year, really clamped down on defense. Forward FC Head Coach Daryl Shore said after the game that Greenville was very well organized on defense.
“Once they scored the goal, they put 12 guys behind the ball. They just defended well and they have a good goalkeeper,” Shore said. “They do a good job of being organized and they make it difficult to play against. In the second half, when they made the change, they put (Cole Seiler) out on their left side-our right side-because we were having joy with Carter (Manley) getting forward and then they lock that down and we just didn’t have enough ideas.”
The loss dropped the Flamingos to fourth place in the standings. Shore said that “when you’re at home, you gotta win games.”
“I didn’t think we were poor, we weren’t great, it’s just one of those things where we pushed, we pushed, we give up the goal which is unfortunate,” Shore said. “We almost get the goal back (but) they clear off the line. (In the) Second half, I felt like we pushed the game but at the end of the day you lose 1-0.”
The Flamingos only have five games left in their inaugural League One season. Shore was asked how to keep the team’s spirits high after the crushing loss.
“It’s two good teams (Forward Madison and Greenville). These games now, when you get into the playoffs, it’s one goal. One goal is gonna win a game so they did a good job, and we weren’t able to break it down,” he said. “By no means are we out of it. We still gotta keep ourselves going and you have to keep fighting until they tell us we can’t fight anymore.”
Forward Madison captain Connor Tobin said after the game that the Flamingos need to bounce back quickly to keep its championship dreams alive.
“(There are) five games left, we’re backs [are] against the wall,” he said. “We keep talking in the locker room, you’ve got to respond to adversity. We’re at a point in our season where it’s do-or-die, and we’ll see what the guys are made of.”
Forward Madison gets the weekend off after playing twice this past week. They will next host South Georgia Tormenta on Sept. 7.