Lansdowne Bhoys missed a late penalty but converted the rebound and held off the Long Island Rough Riders 2-1 in a hard fought and hotly contested first round game of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The two teams exchanged goals in the first half, but Lansdowne opened the scoring with a goal by Jamaican forward Ovan Oakley in the 7th minute. The goal came off some nice work by winger Sikele Sylvester to create the chance for Oakley.
Lansdowne continued their strong start in the first half, with the Rough Riders creating the occasional chance. As the half continued, the Rough Riders started to generate some better scoring opportunities through some nice combinations with forwards Tyler Botte and Junior Rosero. Midfielder Anthony “Nino” Alfonso and right back Danny Kramer also generated some chances for the Rough Riders.
Meanwhile, Lansdowne continued to look for Oakley, along with Sylvester and forward Daryl Kavanagh. Both teams used long balls out of the back to apply pressure and create scoring opportunities, but Lansdowne held the 1-0 lead at halftime.
The Rough Riders started the second half well, but just couldn’t create a dangerous scoring chance in the final third. River Seybolt came on as a substitute for the Rough Riders and he immediately provided a spark, which led to a goal by Alfonso to tie the game at 1-1.
Lansdowne stormed back and attacked the Rough Riders goal looking to get the lead back. Rough Riders goalkeeper Richard Trench was there time and again to make a key save or punch the ball away. After about five minutes of sustained pressure, suddenly the Rough Riders started to gain the advantage and put Lansdowne goalkeeper Kabo Danso under pressure. The game continued as a back and forth affair with both teams having several good scoring chances until the final whistle blew and extra time beckoned.
Both teams made substitutions as Stephen Megaloudis came on for the Rough Riders and Ciaran McGuigan came on for Lansdowne. The first fifteen minutes of extra came and went with a goal as both teams kept creating chances, but couldn’t get the final touch to any of them. At this point, both teams were also feeling the effects of a long midweek game after having played on the weekend.
With time quickly running out, Lansdowne forward Daryl Kavanagh broke through the Rough Riders defense and was fouled in the box for a penalty kick. Up stepped McGuigan to take the kick and after an initial save by Trench, McGuigan put away the rebound to give Lansdowne the 2-1 lead.
A tense few minutes followed, but Lansdowne held on to claim the victory and a place in the second round of the competition. Awaiting Lansdowne is a trip to Pittsburgh to face the Riverhounds from the USL in the Second Round of the competition.
Prior to this year, only two Cosmopolitan League teams had won an opening round match in the Modern Era (Pancyprian Freedoms in 2011, Greek American SC in 2014), but with the Bhoys’ win, combined with the Freedoms win over the New York Red Bulls U23s, that number has been doubled.
For an amateur club, the prospect of facing a full time professional club from the USL is a daunting task. After the game, Lansdowne manager Austin Friel described the challenge that awaits him and his club.
“It’ll be a very tough game for us, but we look forward to the challenge,” Friel said. “Our players are used to being challenged by strong teams like the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. As I’ve said in some recent interviews, we respect these teams, but we don’t fear them. Our club and our supporters want good games against strong competition. We’re an ambitious club and we’re looking forward to going to Pittsburgh on May 18 to compete against the Riverhounds and hopefully come away with a win.”