Forest Rovers FC 2 – 1 Club ATLetic

Staff Writer
Marvin Walters

Forest Rovers FC scored once in either half to beat visitors Club Atletic 2-1 in the United Premier Soccer League on Sunday for their first win in three matches and their first ever victory over Club Atletic.

Forest’s Fidel Escamilia put the host ahead in the 40th minute with a screamer from 40 yards out against the run of play after capitalizing on a howler from Club’s Darrell Johnson. Club forward, Wilfried Tchoupa, opened his goal account to restore parity in the 64th minute from the penalty spot with his team’s first goal for the season. In the United States, they give hurricanes a name, if they ever call one Andrew Tanner, please evacuate quickly. Captain reliable Andrew Tanner came up trumps with a Roberto Carlos -like free kick for the clincher in the 89th minute.

Club ATLetic, who were 2019 President’s Cup Champions, have been absent from UPSL league play since that triumph. They got us off in the day’s second game of a quadruple header. Despite cool conditions from light drizzle and overcast skies, it was blazing hot on the field with players playing at a fever pitch.

Great Result for Forest Rovers, but Club ATLetic is just beginning.

Forest Rovers registered the first shot of the game though they were the team chasing the play. The big chance fell to Asa Eqqleston who was unmarked at the back post from Rovers second corner, but his low shot went harmlessly wide and into touch in the 9th minute.

Rovers employed a 4-5-1 formation to try and outnumber ATLetic in the middle of the park, but their diminutive midfielders were no match to the towering build of the ATLetic players. Rovers should be 1-0 up in the 14th minute when Erasmus Freeman broke free with acres of space and the goalkeeper at his mercy, but his tame shot was handled comfortably by Club’s keeper Juan Torres.

ATLetic was comfortable on the ball stringing some slick passes from left to right on the lush green pitch of South Gwinnett Stadium, but it was not until the 19th minute when they were able to offer some goal mouth threat.

The eye-catching winger Wilfried Tchoupa slipped through a sublime pass to fullback Tremel Copeland who left Matthew Fritts chasing shadows, his thunderbolt of a shot must have stung the hands of the Forest goalkeeper Eduardo Alvarado as he turned it aside for a corner kick.

The host came under tremendous pressure as the dynamic midfield quartet of Gerard Eklu, Tolu Afolabi, Tremel Copeland and Wilfried Tchoupa were stroking the ball around the park with alacrity finding each other with pinpoint accuracy. “pressure buss pipe” as it was in the 27th minute when Fritts gave away the ball carelessly to Tchoupa, who laid it off on platter to Afolabi but his snail like movement allowed Fritts to recover to clear the ball off the line.

“Fortune Favors the brave” as it was with Rovers in the 40th minute when central midfielder Darrell Johnson, who was under no pressure, inexplicably made a poor pass which fell in the path of Escamilia who then laced a ferocious 40-yard rocket that flew past the hapless Torres in the Club goal.

Three minutes later Eklu, who was now operating from the right-hand side, played a deft through ball to Mohamed Bangoura who pulled the trigger, but his shot was blocked by Sebastian Sandovial for a corner kick. The resulting corner was controversially turned in by Afolabi, who was flagged by the assistant referee for push in the back. The half ended 1-0 in favor of the valiant Forest Rovers FC, the second time this season they are leading 1-0 at the break. At the break Afolabi was seen pleading his case to center referee but the referee was having none of it.

ATLetic coach Felipe Lobelo was not a happy camper and made it clear to his players in the dressing room, while Forest coach Donald Schmidt was resolute not to have a recurrence of his last home game when points were dropped.

ATLetic restarted the game like a house on fire and was denied the equalizer in the 47th minute when Copeland whipped in a well weighted cross to Afolabi who took it expertly on his chest and rifled a shot on the half volley but to his dismay, and the travelling supporters, his shot ricocheted of the post and back into play.

Forest decided to “park the bus” and absorb all that was thrown at them. The chances started coming quick and fast as ATLetic starts to turn the screws on Forest. In the 57th minute Bangoura snatched the ball cheekily from Patrick Caceres and broke free but his shot was spurned wide with only the keeper to beat.

A slick passage of one touch football between Afolabi, Bangoura, and Tchoupa created some space behind the Forest defense, as Johnson latched on to a pass but was denied for a second time by the post in the 62nd. The skillful Johnson was at it again in the 64th minute his shot outside the box ricocheted off the arm of Fritts for what some have described as a soft penalty award for Club ATLetic.

Nevertheless, Tchoupa took matters in his hands and converted calmly “as cool as a polar bear nose in winter” sending the goalkeeper the opposite direction.

Finally, the stout green defensive wall of Forest Rovers was breached. Again, they surrendered their lead in the second half and could have been behind if it was not for Fritts goal line heroics in the 77th minute.

As the clock ticked away heading towards another stalemate Johnson’s woes continued as he gave away a silly foul 40 yards out. Sandovial was used as the decoy as Tanner placed the ball down gently. Tanner then bifurcated the red brick wall of Club ATLetic to fizz one pass the diving effort of Torres in the 88th minute for the eventual winner.

Coach Shimdt made a few changes to bolster his defense to see out the game for their first win and a first ever win over Club ATLetic. It was an entertaining game to those who were watching in TV land on and those who were live in attendance to witness such a feat.

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