Second-half rally pushes Chattanooga FC past Atlanta Silverbacks, 4-1 [photos]

Second-half rally pushes Chattanooga FC past Atlanta Silverbacks, 4-1 [photos]

June 21st, 2018 by Gene Henley in Sports - Professional

Chattanooga FC's Charles Clarke, left, heads the ball toward Atlanta Silverbacks goalkeeper Theo Blachon, right, during their NPSL Southeast Conference match Wednesday night at Finley Stadium. CFC scored four goals in a 15-minute span of the second half to rally from a 1-0 deficit and win.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Second-half rally pushes Chattanooga FC past Atlanta Silverbacks, 4-1

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With the way his soccer team was playing at times Wednesday night — creating opportunities, knocking on the door, but not finishing — Chattanooga Football Club coach Bill Elliott's prevailing thought was that if CFC could just find a way to score once, everything would be fine.

The levy was damaged midway through the second half. Soon after, the floodgates opened.

CFC scored four goals in a 15-minute span against the Atlanta Silverbacks, quickly erasing a one-goal deficit on the way to a 4-1 win in front of 3,176 at Finley Stadium.

The win gives CFC its fifth win to go along with three ties this season. With 18 points in nine matches, the team sits comfortably in first place of the National Premier Soccer League's Southeast Conference. New Orleans — which beat CFC this past Saturday — is second with a per-match average of 1.78 points.

CFC hosts the Georgia Revolution at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. After that is another match against the Silverbacks next week, which could be played at Chattanooga Christian School and considered a home match for the Silverbacks, whose home venue has a conflict. The match is currently scheduled to be played next Wednesday at Christian Heritage School in Dalton, Georgia, but could be moved to CCS to create an opportunity for more revenue for Atlanta.

Joao Costa continued his solid play for CFC on Wednesday, finishing with a pair of assists and a goal. His first assist, to Felipe Oliveira, was delivered right in front of the goal, with Oliveira having enough time to hesitate before poking a shot past the goalkeeper and giving the home team a 2-1 advantage. Costa's second assist, six minutes later, came from the outside of his foot to a waiting Luke Winter, who punched the shot in for the 3-1 edge.

"I know Luke very well, and I know how he likes to strike it," Costa said. "He's always in the right place inside of the box, so every time I take the ball, I look at him. I saw his hands up and made the pass and found him."

Said Elliott: "It was a tremendous ball. As a coach, it's not a play we would have recommended. He had an overlapping runner, and I would have recommended we play that guy and let him put that ball across, but great players make you feel foolish as a coach, because he did a thing I wouldn't recommend, did it perfect, and it led to a goal."

Costa then scored a minute later.

CFC had a number of early opportunities on attacks, but it was the visitors who slid out in front with a goal by Thierry Jules in the 45th minute. Jules took a long lead pass and was able to chip the shot over CFC goalkeeper Phil D'Amico.

That lead held up until the 72nd minute, when Oliveira found Caleb Cole, who slotted a shot in for the first goal of his CFC career.

"This win was huge," Elliott said. "It's important for our fans. We appreciate so much all the support we get from Chattanooga. When we step out on the field, we want to give them the win almost as bad as we want it for ourselves."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.