|Erick Norales, captain for the game.|
After the first 45 minutes, I was truly beginning to think that Carolina were truly our nemesis. What do we really have to do to not come up short against this team?
Luckily by the end of the game that question was answered, we come back, score more goals than the other team and win the game, problem solved!
Only one or two changes to the starting line up for Indy Eleven, Pineda coming in over Smart and Charlie Rugg starting up top with Wojcik which quite surprised me.
The most surprising thing was the Carolina lineup, similar to last time they could not field a roster of 18 and had several notable players missing including Bracallelo, Danso and Novo. Starting back Wagner was on the bench. Carolina went with young Baladez and veteran Wells Thompson in attacking positions.
It was a much changed lineup for Carolina who had suffered several injuries since the start of fall and now had to play a third game in 8 days.
Victory snatched from the jaws of disaster......
Indy Eleven started the first half well dominating possession for the first 12 to 13 minutes and keeping Carolina mostly in their own half.
Both Wojcik and Rugg had chances, the best of which was a volley from Rugg within the first ten minutes that produced a very fine save from Akira Fitzgerald.
Indy played with high intensity but couldn't really finish anything, then began to slow and allow Carolina to come into the game.
Mid way through the half both teams lost important players through injury, Brad Ring appeared to have pulled his groin after coming down from an ariel challenge, he tried to run it off on the sideline but it wasn't going away and Daniel Keller came on to replace him.
Tiyi Shipilane who appeared to begin limping after an earlier challenge with Kyle Hyland, had to exit the field on 24' and was replaced by Austin da Luz.
Carolina continued to take up more of the possession despite losing their most influential player, and Indy continued to give them too much respect and allowed them more of the ball.
Carolina's pressure paid off late in the half, a free kick in the 42nd minute was taken short and floated in front of goal, Austin da Luz sent in a glancing header past Nicht and Carolina took the lead.
The scorer made no friends among the fans or players as he taunted the Brickyard Battalion with his goal celebration, which lead to a rather apt "don't start no shit, won't get no shit" chant later in the second half.
Indy narrowly escaped heading into the break two goals down after Kristian Nicht made a brilliant low save off of a Hlavaty shot. This was huge, it could have been disastrous for us to head in trailing by two goals.
Indy is more familiar with being in the position of scoring first and giving up a lead, it was unfamiliar territory but they responded well in the second half.
The first ten minutes saw neither side really being able to settle to a really good rhythm but Indy were connecting well and making sensible passes to retain possession. In the 53rd minute a beautiful weighted cross from Hyland into the front of goal was connected by Wojcik who bullet header the ball past Fitzgerald and leveled the game to 1-1.
Credit to Hyland for the assist but the build up to the goal was incredible, after a clearance from Franco in our own area, Wojcik controlled the ball in the middle of our own half and started a series of 8 passes that ended with him scoring and also involved Stojkov, Keller and Hyland. Great team effort.
The celebratory smoke from the west end had barely cleared when Indy's perseverance brought us another goal and the lead in the game.
A foul on Franco in the 55th minute gave Indy a free kick deep on the right side. The resulting kick was floated in by Victor Pineda and dropped in at the back post area where the onrushing Erick Norales blasted a shot low into the goal.
Stojkov went off in the 63rd minute with suspected concussion from an earlier boot in the face by Austin da Luz and was replaced by Duke Lacroix, a smart move I thought, Railhawks are a veteran team playing in turf, the pace of Lacroix would for sure cause trouble and danger in a wide position.
Lacroix's speed created the chance for Dylan Mares on 70 after sending in Wojcik who passed across the goal to Dylan who only had to just keep running and it would have bounced off him, somehow managed to tangle it up between his legs and fall over, I am sure he won't enjoy seeing a replay of that, we should have extended our lead.
Truth be told Indy could have won this game 4 or 5 to one, but I'll take any kind of win. Carolina managed to gain some of the possession in the remaining 20 minutes or so, but never really achieved anything with it even when striker Bracallelo entered the game. Indy made their final substitution on 85 giving Wojcik a well deserved rest for Brown.
Indy held on and the game played out to a win for Indy Eleven, which on the evidence of the second half alone was a very well deserved one.
Many of the Carolina players collapsed to the ground in disappointment, we all know how that feels, we gave them a hell of a game, I hope that the most disappointed was Austin da Luz, he should learn not to taunt the home supporters.
Not really too much to complain about, I have no doubt Tim and the team will go over the match and look particularly at the first half. If not for a great save from Kristian we could have gone down 2-0.
A short period of mayhem towards the end of the first half proves that if you are not going to bury your chances, teams will come back into the game and bite you.
It's important to look at any possible problems, so hopefully we can learn something from that. But like last week we played a very difficult team who had been unbeaten for 7 league games.
We are scoring more goals and gaining more points, but finishing is still a little bit of an issue. But like I said in my preview, we needed to reverse some of past traits, and we did that beating a team who we have so often performed badly against.
Bloody Shambles MVP....
Very difficult one to call again this week, once again Wojcik was superb in both work rate, distribution and finishing. Both Cory Miller and Erick Norales and our whole back line stood up tall in this game and Kristian pretty much kept us in the game going into the half. I am going to give it to Norales this week, outside of a couple of giveaways he wore the Captains armband well, played his usual solid defense and contributed with the match winning goal so this weeks MVP is Erick Norales.