Report: Crystal Palace Baltimore 3- Real Maryland 2


Crystal Palace Baltimore survived a late Real Maryland onslaught 3-2 in a pulsating derby encounter at the UMBC Soccer Stadium.


By winning tonight, Palace also claimed the D’Orsey cup 5-3 on aggregate, but Real Maryland will feel hard done by tonight’s match as the Monarchs believe that they should have left Baltimore with a draw.


With the home side leading 3-2 deep into stoppage time, Palace forward Matthew Mbuta tried to play the ball back to his keeper. Monarchs’ substitute Clint Loughner, who had  just entered the match moments earlier, intercepted the pass and was on a break-away. Loughner rounded Palace keeper Brian Rowland and rolled the ball into the net, but the Assistant Referee inexplicably had his flag up for off-sides.


Outraged by the call, Real Maryland head coach Antonio Carlos Vieira sprinted onto the field to confront the center referee and was duly shown a red card.


For the neutral, it was a perfect ending to a derby that had everything. Good football with plenty of chances, goals, hard tackles, cards, and controversy right at the death.


Crystal Palace went to work right from the beginning. In the 4th minute, Pat Healy raced behind the Real Maryland backline and sent a rasping volley towards the upper corner, but Monarchs’ goalie Oscar Araujo did well to push the ball onto the post.


Healy was at it again six minutes later when his through ball put Val Teixeira in on goal. Araujo made a great first save and Teixeira blasted the rebound over the goal when it would have been easier to score.


Three minutes later Araujo made a phenomenal double save on Mbuta and Teixeira following a Crystal Palace corner.


Mbuta had his revenge in the 33rd minute, however, as he put the Eagles into the lead. Healey released Larry Mark down the right. Mark got to the end-line and pulled the ball back for Mbuta to hammer home.


Mark and Mbuta combined again shortly after. Mark won the ball in midfield and released Mbuta. The Cameroonian raced into the box and laid the ball back for Mark who shot just wide of the target.


Mark broke free once again just before halftime crossing for Teixeira to side-foot just wide of the far post.


Crystal Palace continued to apply the pressure in the second half. Teixeira created the half’s first quality chance on 53 minutes when he cut in on from the wing and unleashed a drive off the far post.


Monarchs’ defender Harold Pena then cheaply conceded possession to Mbuta in the Monarchs’ defensive end. Mbuta raced in and sent a low drive across the face of goal just beyond Healy’s outstretched boot.


Minutes later Pablo Gomez conceded a free kick in midfield. Teixeira’s long restart fell right to the feet of Mike Lookingland, but Araujo made a stunning save to deny the defender’s point blank shot.


Andrew Marshall then missed just wide with a volley from a corner kick.


Araujo’s string of stunning saves proved crucial as Real Maryland suddenly came to life.


In the 76th minute, midfielder Dia Hunte went on a mazy run through the Palace defense and was brought down by Marshall on the edge of the box. Victor Ramirez stepped up to the dead ball and expertly curled his free kick over the wall and into the upper corner for his first ever professional goal.


Ramirez went from hero to villain three minutes later, however, as he tried to dribble out of his own box. Substitute Dave Feazell dispossessed Ramirez and sweetly rolled the ball just inside the far post.    


Palace thought they had wrapped the game up in the 86 minute when Healy darted into the area and laid the ball off for Lookingland who atoned for his earlier miss by brilliantly curving the ball into the far upper corner, but the drama was just beginning.


Real Maryland pulled a goal back in the 90th minute. Ramirez sent in an early cross from the left and Nilson Perez stole in-between the two center backs to push the ball beyond Rowland.


This set up a nervy finish for Palace and Real Maryland thought they had taken a point right at the death only to be denied by the man in the middle.


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