Ryan Lassan/For Club and Country.
If you haven’t done so yet, vote in the community player ratings – quick, anonymous, etc.
NASHVILLE – It wasn’t quite a last-kick winner – it wasn’t even a kick at all, with Jimmy Ockford’s header deflected in off a Birmingham knee – but Nashville SC found just enough offense to beat Birmingham Legion FC in a crucial USL Championship Eastern Conference tilt by a 1-0 margin.
Ockford, a centerback who played a key role in his team’s keeping of a clean sheet as well, was credited with the goal thanks to his header – assisted by left back Justin Davis on a corner kick – being on-frame.
A back-and-forth first half saw Nashville SC have a greater volume of dangerous chances, but perhaps some of Birmingham’s opportunities looking a little scarier before fizzling without a shot on target. The second half saw more of the same: Birmingham had some incredible chances, but it was Nashville pushing play and having more opportunities to break the dam.
A Matt LaGrassa shot in the first minute of second-half stoppage time was deflected and struck the left post, and it looked for all the world that the Boys in Gold would suffer a disappointing draw – in a situation where all points matter as NSC attempts to position itself for a home game in the USL Championship playoffs.
However, Ockford played the hero at the conclusion of a corner kick earned by Nashville striker Ropapa Mensah, who has plenty of dangerous moments in the waning moments (particularly impressive for a player who hasn’t had 90-minute fitness among his assets at times this year).
With the victory, Nashville moves – at least temporarily – into third position in the East, albeit with at least one more game played than each other member of the top five. The Boys in Gold can strike an even more major blow Saturday, with a game against Pittsburgh Riverhounds, once again at First Tennessee Park. The Riverhounds currently stand fourth in the conference, and a six-pointer between consecutive teams on the table could be the deciding factor about which of them earns a homefield playoff match.
For now, though, Nashville will bask in the glow of a stoppage-time victory. Other games can occupy their minds at a later date.
- 2′ NSH Yellow card – 6 Ken Tribbett (foul)
- 36′ BHM Yellow card – 11 JJ Williams (foul)
- 45’+2 NSH Yellow card – 21 Darnell King (foul)
- 45’+4 Half time
- 59′ BHM Substitution – On 14 Daniel Johnson, off 12 Eric Avila
- 65′ NSH Substitution – On 23 Taylor Washington, off 19 Alan Winn
- 70′ BHM Substitution – On 30 Razak Cromwell, off 7 Brian Wright
- 74′ NSH Substitution – On 14 Daniel Ríos, off 6 Ken Tribbett
- 84′ NSH Substitution – On 12 Tucker Hume, off 11 Kharlton Belmar
- 90′ BHM Substitution – On 17 Gael Mabiala, off 11 JJ Williams (injury)
- 90’+3 NSH GOAL – 15 Jimmy Ockford (header), assisted by 2 Justin Davis (corner kick)
- 90’+6 Full time