August 11, 2012
Blues Defeat Antigua 1-0 to Keep Postseason Hopes Alive
Griffin strikes again to give Fullerton-based side crucial three points
FULLERTON, Calif. – The Blues registered a crucial 1-0 home win over Antigua Barracuda FC on Sunday night to keep their postseason hopes alive. Striker Max Griffin continued his impressive run of form by scoring his second goal in as many days on a Maykel Galindo cross late in the first half. Following the victory, Head Coach Charlie Naimo’s men sit four points outside the USL PRO playoff picture. They need consecutive wins over visiting Harrisburg next week to have a theoretical chance at reaching the knockout stages.
The Blues took instant control of possession and had the first dangerous look of the night in the 8th minute, Shay Spitz finding himself with some time at the top of the penalty area and releasing a powerful effort that whistled wide of the left post. The hosts’ next chance came four minutes later, as a nice one-two between Griffin and Carlos Borja saw Griffinstreak toward goal, but only for two opposition defenders to catch up and close in on the striker near the edge of the box. One of them got a foot on the attempted finish to deflect the ball wide right.
In the 18th minute, Borja would attempt a shot of his own for the game’s most dangerous opportunity thus far. The former Chivas USA man took advantage of some space to progress to the top of the box and released a low drive that went just wide of the left post. The Barracudas finally tested Blues goalkeeper José Miranda at the other end three minutes later, Darrelle Russell’s right-footed blast from about 18 yards forcing a solid diving stop from the man between the pipes.
The opportunity seemed to briefly energize the visitors, who had an excellent chance in the 25th minute. Tomarley Thomas displayed brilliant skills on the left side of the penalty area to flick the ball over a helpless Bryan Burke, followed by a rocket from a tight angle that deflected off Erlys Garcia and whizzed over the frame for a corner kick.
The Blues were back on the offensive just after the half-hour mark, an open Griffin being picked out at the penalty spot by Galindo’s cross from the left. With very little time to react, the on-loan Orlando City striker was unfortunate to see the ball bounce off his thigh and go well wide of the frame.
The connection of Galindo and Griffin finally gave the hosts the lead in first-half stoppage time, as Galindo hit another dangerous cross from the left and Griffin beat netminder Nathan Sprenkel to the ball inside the five-yard box to nod home for his fourth goal in seven games with the Blues.
In a slow second period, Antigua had a golden chance to level the match in the 62nd minute, Tomarley “Ziggy Thomas” driving past Allan Russell and into the box before being brought down by the Blues captain. Quinton Griffith stepped up to the spot but saw his penalty kick denied by Miranda on a brilliant reflex save to the goalkeeper’s right. The home side did well to fend off the attacking efforts by their Caribbean visitors for the remainder of the match and held on for a hard-earned victory.
Both sides play back-to-back matches on August 17 and August 19. While Antigua travels to Virginia for a pair of meetings with the Richmond Kickers, the Blues need to win both of their home matches against Harrisburg, a direct competitor for the sixth and final playoff spot, to have a chance at reaching the knockout stages. They face the City Islanders at 4 p.m. on Friday at Fullerton College before returning home to Titan Stadium for Sunday’s 5 p.m. PT clash.