Report: Real Maryland 1 - Crystal Palace Balt. 2
By Matt Skinner
Crystal Palace Baltimore has one hand gripped firmly on the DeOrsey Maryland Cup thanks to Sergio Flores’ 57th minute strike that clinched a 2-1 win over Real Maryland. Cecil Lewis opened up proceedings for Baltimore in the 34th minute only for Nilson Perez to draw the Monarchs level two minutes later.
It was the home team that started proceedings with veteran striker Ronald Cerritos playing the ball wide to Perez. The Columbian found ex-Palace player Mateus Dos Anjos making an attacking run down the left-wing and lobbed the ball forward for the pacey midfielder to latch on to. The Palace defense was quick to spot the threat and a timely interception by Paul Robson soon halted the Brazilian’s chance.
Real Maryland continued to cause problems for the Palace defenders early on in the game.
In the 8th minute, defender Stephen Basso managed to beat his marker and make a speedy break of his own down the left-wing. His grounded shot just outside the 18-yard box was on target but Palace goalkeeper Brian Rowland read the play and managed to handle the ball.
Crystal Palace’s first real attempt on goal came in the 13th minute courtesy of Kevin King. The forward made a surging run down the center of the field and managed to get into a position where he was able to offload the ball with great force. Maryland goalkeeper Emilio Zelaya had no other option but to parry the shot downwards before smothering his body over the ball.
King’s attempt on goal was the first of many Palace attacks and Zelaya was kept busy thereafter.
In the 26th minute the Baltimore side was awarded a corner kick that was swiftly taken by Lewis on the right. Midfielder Jim Cherneski was the first to react inside the box, jumping up and connecting with the ball for a header. His effort though sailed just high of the crossbar much to the ’keepers relief.
Lewis was persistent inside the penalty area and finally found the back of the net after a strew of Maryland defensive errors in the 34th minute. The midfielder was 25 yards out from goal when he began his run and managed to get around both Andy Kish and Marcos Chantel in defense. Zelaya saw no other choice but to come out from his goal line to force a save but Lewis reacted quickest and struck the ball in between the posts.
It did not take long for the home team to make amends, scoring an equalizer from a set play in the 36th minute. Angel Higuera’s corner kick from the left soared into Palace’s penalty area and found the head of Perez. Rowland did not have time to react as the striker’s effort glided into the back of the visitor’s net.
Both teams began the second half with the intention of scoring the winner and Palace substitute Valdemar Teixeira’s effort nearly did that for the Baltimore side in the 50th minute. The Portuguese native was on the end of King’s cross and managed to control the ball while turning inside the box. He let out a blistering shot from 6 yards but Zelaya instinctively tipped it over his net.
The second goal for the Baltimore club came in the 57th minute courtesy of Flores’ strike. King’s run inside the 18-yard box managed to force Zelaya out from his goal line. The goalkeeper’s decision allowed the Jamaican to quickly play the ball on to the feet of the incoming Flores, who struck the ball into the open goal.
Some creative midfield work in the 60th minute showed that Real Maryland were not about to give up. The play began with Dennis Alas’ charge down the center of midfield near the halfway line. Before being closed in by the Palace midfield, the Salvadoran managed to tap the ball over to Higuera who passed to substitute Pablo Gomez. The Argentine made a quick run forward, playing a quick one-two with Perez, before long-balling it to Cerritos inside Palace’s 18-yard box. The Salvadoran managed to control the ball and took his shot but Rowland was there for the save.
The Monarchs tried to rally another equalizer and nearly succeeded in the 76th minute. Basso made a run from the back line before managing to flick the ball to Perez. The Columbian quickly saw substitute Teodoro Ramirez break free of his marker and lobbed it up field for the Salvadoran to connect with. He was free to strike but the assistant referee ruled the play offside, much to the dismay of the midfielder.
With the game nearing completion, the Monarchs could have conceded a third goal if not for Ferguson’s last second clearance. King once again made a run down the right-wing and crossed the ball into the penalty area for substitute striker Matthew Mbuta. The Palace player decided to try his luck and shot for goal. Fortunately for the home side, Ferguson was able to intercept the ball and clear it away from the imposing danger.
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