The Oklahoma City Energy FC booked a place in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a thunderbolt of a goal from substitute striker Peter Toth in the 83rd minute.
Toth’s late goal – which coach Jimmy Neilson called a “fantastic strike” – settled a 1-0 match that seemed destined for overtime as Energy FC and in-state rival Tulsa Roughnecks FC struggled to threaten each other’s nets.
Toth, who entered the game in the 61st minute, said he received the ball from his left and saw an opportunity for a shot from about 30 yards out.
“I was trying to put it in the corner,” he said. “I think pretty much I did it.”
With the win, Oklahoma City moves on to play MLS leader FC Dallas in the Fourth Round of the nation’s oldest tournament. That game will be played June 16 in Fort Worth, Texas.
On Wednesday, both Oklahoma-based USL sides played tight defense, marshalling their forces at the top of the box to limit their opponents’ scoring chances.
The teams were credited with 12 shots on goal (nine for Oklahoma City), but only a couple of those posed any serious scoring threats.
Oklahoma City’s most dangerous attack before Toth’s winner came from defender Michael Harris’ acrobatic flip throw-in, which Tulsa goalkeeper Zac Lubin awkwardly swatted away in the game’s opening minutes.
“I’ve got to give Tulsa credit. In the second half, they came out strong, with a lot of good energy, and made it very, very difficult for us,” he said. “It became very, very intense. Not the prettiest game, but the intensity was there. Both teams were fighting for every inch on the field.”
Tulsa’s chance came in the 54th minute, when Roughnecks midfielder Eli Galbraith-Knapp launched a stinging shot on goal. Energy FC goalkeeper Evan Newton bobbled the shot, but managed to cover it before an onrushing Tulsa player could reach it.
Galbraith-Knapp also had a chance for a late equalizer, but was unable to get onto the end of a well-flighted corner kick to the far post in the 88th minute.
In the end, Neilson said, Toth’s “fantastic” strike secured the win for Energy FC.
“It doesn’t surprise us,” Neilson said. “He’s doing that day in and day out in training.”
He said Toth entered the game as a box-to-box midfielder before settling into his favored role underneath the striker.