Forward Madison came into tonight’s clash against the Richmond Kickers on a three-game win streak and a playoff place.
After tonight, Forward has neither.
Richmond Kickers stunned the Forward faithful with a 69th minute goal by substitute forward Daniel Jackson, as Forward was left to rue their missed chances.
Jackson took advantage of an errant touch by Madison defender Christian Díaz, and while goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair came up big with an initial stop, Jackson poked home the rebound to give the Kickers a 1-0 lead with his first few touches of the game.
Richmond gave the Flamingos fits early on in the game. In the 8th minute, midfielder Elijah Lockby sent in a wonderful cross from the right into the path of forward Dennis Chin, but St. Clair saved Chin’s close range attempt.
The next chance fell to Richmond as well. Kickers’ forward Joe Gallardo blazed through the Madison defense on a counter, but his effort beautiful curling effort was denied by the post.
Forward seemed to wake up after Gallardo’s near miss, and came back with more offensive threat. Forward Paulo Junior fired a dipping shot from 30 yards out that nearly nicked the crossbar in the 24th minute but the best chance came five minutes later. Christian Díaz blew past his defenders on the right wing and served a laser into the box, but forward Oliver White hit the post.
In the 36th minute, forward Don Smart was guided into the box by flick from midfielder Josiel Nuñez and appeared to be taken down. While the Flock and the rest of the Breese Stevens crowd protested, the referee did not blow his whistle and the scramble afterwards led to only a half chance.
Forward thought they had a goal right at the start of the second half. Midfielder JC Banks struck a curling free kick into the back of the net — at least on first glance. The crowd celebrated like it was 1-0, but the ball hit a post that helped hold up the net, creating an optical illusion, but not a real goal.
But there were no similar illusions when Jackson scored on his second bite of the apple, and Forward was frustrated for the rest of the match as Richmond dropped back. Madison kept pressure high and even had a penalty claim on a potential handball after a Don Smart cross, but the final shot stats tell a story of profligacy: 11 shots, zero on target.
“You can out shoot them all you want, but if they’re not on frame it doesn’t really matter,”Head Coach Daryl Shore said. “I can’t fault the commitment or work rate of our guys, they fought until they end and it just wasn’t our night.”
With the loss, Madison drops two places into sixth as both the Chattanooga Red Wolves and the Greenville Triumph moved ahead of them in the crowded playoff race. Next Saturday, Madison travels down to Greenville in a massive game in the playoff hunt. Greenville has earned a league-leading nine clean sheets, but JC Banks is hoping that Forward’s attacking urgency will improve from the lessons of this game.
“It’s frustrating but we have to forget about it, but not completely. We have to learn from it and move onto the next game,” Banks said.
While the Flamingos have a poor 3-5-2 record in their travels, Shore knows the team is still capable of playing better and picking up the result.
“It’s not like we can’t win go and win on the road, but they’re a good team. Defensively, they don’t give up a lot of goals, so we just gotta be better,” Shore said.