CARY, N.C. – It was magic again for Nashville SC against North Carolina FC as the boys in gold scored three times in the second half to earn a point in a 3-3 road draw on Saturday afternoon. The comeback secured a vital road point for Nashville as it aims to stay in playoff position in the USL’s Eastern Conference.
90 in a Nutshell
In the 18’ minute, midfielder Lebo Moloto sent an errant pass into the middle of the field and was intercepted by Tiyi Shipalane. Shipalane took the ball and drove it down to near the top of the box. His shot was deflected by defender Liam Doyle and caught keeper Matt Pickens off guard as NCFC tallied first.
foul by Nashville defender Bradley Bourgeois just outside the top of the box late in the first half led to the second North Carolina goal. Daniel Rios sent the free kick curling around the Nashville wall and into the right-hand corner of the net to double the NCFC lead. The goal from Rios was his 16th of the season, tied for second in the USL. The strike would send Nashville to the locker room at the break at a 2-0 deficit.
Nashville has historically been able to claw back from early deficits on the road, but the side found new life in the second frame when Brandon Allen coolly converted a PK in the 51’ minute. Moloto sent in a free kick that hit a NCFC hand and gave Nashville the penalty and cut the deficit in half.
North Carolina was able to answer though as Zach Steinberger found the back of the net in the 63’ minute off a failed Nashville clearance. The ball fell to Steinberger just outside the box who drove it into the ground and past Pickens into the goal.
In the 80’ minute Tucker Hume earned Nashville’s second PK of the match and again Allen was called upon. The striker converted his second PK of the night to cut the deficit to just one goal. Just two minutes later, Moloto would score the equalizer when a rocket shot from the left side, some 20+ yards out, took a deflection off a NCFC defender into the right side of the net. The goal marked the 13th Nashville has scored in the final 10 minutes of a match this season.
North Carolina put on threatening pressure in the waning minutes of the match, but Nashville was able to defend well and earn the point on the road.
18’ NC – Tiyi Shipalane
39’ NC – Daniel Rios
51’ NSH – Brandon Allen (PK)
63’ NC – Zach Steinberger
80’ NSH – Brandon Allen (PK)
82’ NSH – Lebo Moloto
Head coach Gary Smith
“The big difference was the second half performance. It had more edge and purpose to it. There was a brighter feel about it. Scoring quickly there was key to getting ourselves back on track. The inclusion on Tucker gave us a great focal point. I am pleased the referee showed the moral strength to give the two penalties. Great performance in the second half by the lads.”
NSH – Four of five penalties converted. Nashville has been almost automatic from the spot as it has converted all but one of its PKs this season.
Eastern Conference Update
The point earned is massive for Nashville in the playoff chase.
Nashville SC will have a break before returning home where wins have been plentiful. Its next match will be at First Tennessee Park on Tuesday, September 18 at 7:30 p.m. against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here.