Atlanta Elephants FC pulled off an exciting 3-4 victory over Potros FC in the Georgia Premier Division of the United Premier Soccer League on Saturday afternoon. In a match played at Silverbacks’ Park, Potros’ Marc Bineau put the home team ahead before Elephants’ Moustapha Dante equalized and turned the tie on its head.
Manuel Carrillo sent Potros back in front early in the second half. However, moments later Potros were pegged back by Elephants’ captain Alpha Balde. Elephants’ Franck Dibi thought he had scored the winner after putting the visitors ahead with two minutes left in regular time, but Potros’ Carrillo had other plans to spoil the party as he made it 3-3 heading into stoppage time.
Elephants’ Dibi eventually scored the winner with his second of the game and his team’s fourth with the last kick of the game to ensure they walked away with all 3 points. The result sees Elephants FC climb to 3rd in the league table, a point behind 1st place Atletico Atlanta with more games coming later in the day and the following day. For the moment, Elephants’ were level on points with FC Matata, though Matata had a game in hand.
In recap, the game which started off slowly but picked up in the 6th minute when Elephants’ Leandre Beh made a careless back pass to his keeper Lionel Sakoue which put him in a situation that ended with him pulling down Potros striker Marc Bineau in the box for a called penalty. Bineau brushed himself off, stepped up and calmly slotted the penalty home for an early 1-0 lead for Potros FC. The goal brought the game to life for both teams.
In the 11th minute a nice passage of slick give-and-go passes between Romual Tchouta, Moussa Sissoko and Alpha Balde saw them get a shot off that came very close. Potros Gabriel Koziel do Carmo, a high school senior from Brazil, was their youngest player last season and so far has the only goal for the team this season.
Koziel do Carmo is clearly a great talent on the horizon and was heavily involved in a move that forced Chris Atipo to make a last ditched tackle to deny Rodrigo Feitosa a scoring chance in the 16th minute of play. A minute later the momentum swung the opposite direction this time Atipo was teed up nicely by Sissoko who pulled the trigger from 20 yards to bring out a miraculous save from Potros’ goalkeeper Jorge Valdovinos.
The coach of Atlanta Elephants, Zana Soro, continued to echo instructions from the sideline urging his team to play higher up the pitch. That instruction paid off in the 28th minute when Moustapha Dante collected a cheeky return pass at the edge of the box to fire home to bring the score level at 1-1. The sparsely seated spectators, due to COVID-19 restrictions, cheered on the Elephants as they enjoyed the lion’s share of possession heading into the half time break. The half ended 1-1 setting up an interesting second half.
Potros coach Christopher Uranga ruffled the feathers of his team during the half time break. This paid dividends immediately on the resumption of the second half as Bineau collected a ball out wide and played a sublime through ball to Carrillo who opens his body and stroked home expertly to make it 2-1 in the 46th minute. With the game well and truly brought to life, those who were in attendance could not take their eyes off the match fearing they might just miss a goal.
Atipo a “cut above the rest” was at the center of the action again as he collected a pull back from the right side, but his ferocious shot went agonizingly high and wide in the 50th minute.
Potros came under tremendous pressure after finding the go-ahead goal and eventually surrendered their lead in the 60th minute. Atipo’s corner kick fell awkwardly on the hand of Rodrigo Feitosa in the box, the referee did not skip a beat before pointing to the spot for penalty to Elephants. Captain Fantastic Balde took the responsibility, “as cool as you like” when he wrong-footed the Potros’ keeper to make it 2-2.
Atipo was clearly the crowd’s favorite as they cheered each time he caressed the ball and to every pass he made. He went close to breaking the deadlock in the 79th minute after collecting a no-look back pass from Potros FC Feitosa and left the on-rushing custodian Valdovinos in his wake, but his powerhouse shot went wide to the right.
With 10 minutes to go, the game seemed set for a draw, however, there was a twist to this tale. Two minutes from time, Elephants’ Dante gave Diallo a well weighted pass which he refiled home from close range leaving the hapless Potros’ goalkeeper on his bottom.
As the seconds ticked away, the entire Elephant’s bench was on their feet waiting for the final whistle but to their surprise, Potros’ Carrillo moved in with a clever little flick to give himself space to unleash a thunderbolt to level up things 3 goals apiece very late in the contest. That seemed to seal things for a draw in the match which was already late in stoppage time.
Like sands though the hourglass, so was drama at the death in time added on. The young Potros’ goalkeeper Valdovinos brashly charged into Elephants’ Dante in what some might have said was a dive from Dante, but the referee, after consulting with his assistant referee, pointed to the spot for the called infraction. Dibi eventually whipped home the resulting penalty to make it 3-4. Both teams traded ‘football punches‘ for the 90 minutes leaving the jubilant spectators satisfied with a exhilarating contest.
Next up, Potros FC plays away to Atletico Atlanta next Saturday, while Atlanta Elephants FC plays at home to Rovers FC on Sunday.