Justin Sukow scored just three minutes after coming on as a second half substitute, goalkeeper Phil Breno made five saves — two of the diving fingertip variety — and Forward Madison FC survived a late barrage to earn a 1-0 win over league leaders Richmond Kickers.
It was Madison’s first win and first clean sheet in USL League One play this season.
League scoring leader Emiliano Terzaghi nearly put the hosts ahead int he 27th minute, taking a diagonal pass and curling a right-footed effort toward the far post, but Breno was up to the task, sprawling to his right to push the shot aside.
In wet and rainy conditions, neither side saw many opportunities for the rest of the half and the match was still scoreless at the break.
Right wingback Alvin Jones took a knock at the hour mark and was replaced by Justin Sukow, who made an immediate impact. Rojay Smith, playing at left wingback, carried a ball forward and with three defenders converging, managed to find Sukow on the right. Sukow took a touch toward the center and unleashed a left-footed effort that caromed off defender Jalen Crisler’s shin and in to give the Mingos the lead.
Some excellent defending from Mitchell Osmond and Eric Leonard and more stellar goalkeeping from Breno made that goal stand up. It was Terzaghi again with a diving header in the 77th that Breno was able to parry aside. The goal post stopped one Richmond shot deep into stoppage time and Breno and Mikey Maldonado teamed up to clear a last-ditch effort off the line to preserve the clean sheet and the win.
The match overall was lopsided in favor of the host Kickers, who had 18 shots to Madison’s six and who held 61 percent of the possession.
“It was ironic because we didn’t play that well, but that’s how it goes,” head coach Matt Glaeser said after the game. “It was a gutsy win. Definitely the best team we played against so far. It was a difficult game. We did whatever it takes and the guys did it.”
“We were coming here to play the team at the top of the table. We have a group of guys ready to win the championship. This is our turning point, grinding out a result for over 100 minutes,” Leonard said, referring to the 10 minutes of stoppage time combined between the two halves. “We need to keep improving as a group technically, but we’re well on our way.”
Next up, the Mingos head to Greenville Friday to face the last-place Triumph and then host Charlotte Independece at home May 21.